The latest documentary from Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase (of the Cannes prize-winning “The Mourning Forest”), “Genpin” takes an affectionate look at the Yoshimura Clinic, whose medic has spent the past 40 years encouraging women to deliver their babies proudly and naturally. A sweet-faced man with big, brown-orange eyeglasses and a white beard, Dr. Tadashi Yoshimura emerges as a modest hero in Kawase’s gently informative docu, even when he wonders aloud whether the filmmaker knows what she’s getting into by training her camera on a “willful, self-indulgent old man.” Following the commercial pattern of Kawase’s other pics, wide fest play appears guaranteed.
With its several scenes of childbirth, “Genpin” inevitably recalls Kawase’s 2006 film “Birth/Mother,” which culminates in the delivery of the director’s child. In the new pic, however, pregnant women are shown chopping wood and performing rigorous squats, as per the doctor’s required regimen. Yoshimura is given plenty of time to espouse his passionately held philosophies, including the opinion that abnormal births are the result of “uncertainty” and other cultural factors. Tech credits are lovely, with Kawase’s many interstitial shots of nature further serving her docu’s appealingly elemental themes.