Mental (dir. Kazuhiro Soda) – As Neil Young has already indicated, this film may test the patience of some, but for me this observational documentary about a Japanese mental health facility is worthy of the mantle of Soda’s idol Frederick Wiseman. The film extends itself to its subjects, allowing them to express themselves in their own time, making up for the gross neglect paid them in a society where the mentally disabled are kept well from view. This cinematic act of generosity eventually reaps ample rewards as the patients’ oddly lucid musings on the purpose of their lives and their struggles with happiness and compulsive thoughts of suicide lead to a startling universality. If the Berlinale gave awards for the “performances” of documentary subjects, surely one would go to Sugano, a brilliant but fragile ex-social worker who directs his own scenes and whose poetry provides the script for one of the most emotionally affecting scenes of the festival so far.