A poignant argument against the outsourcing of Alzheimer's care
Sneak Preview Screening: "YAEKO'S HUM (Yaeko no hamingu)"
followed by a Q&A with director Kiyoshi Sasabe,
stars Takeshi Masu and Yoko Takahashi
Tuesday, April 25 at 7:00 pm
In Japanese with English subtitles
Japan, 2016 112 minutes
Directed by: Kiyoshi Sasabe
Written by: Kiyoshi Sasabe
Produced by: Kiyoshi Sasabe, Nobuyo Nomura, Yuichi Nishimura
Starring: Takeshi Masu, Yoko Takahashi, Tomio Umezawa, Jun Inoue, Ayane,
Yuichi Nakamura, Keita Ninomiya, Megumi Abe, Ibuki Tsuji, Hitomi Tsuikage
Film courtesy of Ark Entertainment
Seigo Ishizaki, a retired principal and school board director, is talking to an avid crowd in a hall in Hagi. "I cared for my wife for 12 years," he tells them. "We'd been married for 38 years, so that amounts to the last third of our life together. I watched her gradually lose her memory… but then it struck me… My wife was just taking her time saying goodbye." As Ishizaki speaks, his memories begin to come alive in a series of flashbacks, starting from Yaeko's early-onset Alzheimer's in 1989.
As her illness progresses, it takes a tremendous toll on the family. But Ishizaki (Masu) insists that "kindness is the best medicine," and remains impossibly devoted and patient as his wife turns slowly reverts to childhood, even as he himself endures four separate cancer operations. Yaeko (Takahashi) was once a music teacher, and she retains her love of song; but since she cannot remember the words, she must hum them. When she hears her favorite songs by Shinji Tanimura, her smile always returns. But these are not easy years, and the film doesn't gloss over the difficulties of home care - the diapers, the mood changes, the tantrums, the disappearance of romance from the couple's relationship. Yet with the support of the couple's two daughters, and eventually the entire town, Ishizaki tends to Yaeko's needs, protects her dignity and extends her life as he bids her a "long farewell."
Based on a true story, writer-director Kiyoshi Sasabe means his film as a wake-up call for Japan, which currently numbers 4.6 million dementia sufferers. He shot "Yaeko's Hum" in the small castle town of Hagi, on the Sea of Japan, where he has set four previous films, affording him not only beautiful scenery, but also extensive support from the locals.
Please join us for this sneak preview of "Yaeko's Hum" ahead of its Japanese release on May 6.
For more (in Japanese): http://yaeko-humming.jp
KIYOSHI SASABE attended what is now the Japan Institute of the Moving Image and worked as an assistant director to Yōichi Sai, Seiji Izumi and Yasuo Furuhata before debuting as a director in 2002 with "Dawn of a New Day: The Man Behind VHS." He followed with a string of noteworthy works, including "The Stars Converge," which received the Directors Guild of Japan New Directors Award in 2003; "Half a Confession," which won the Japan Academy Prize for Best Picture in 2004; "Sea Without Exit," "Yunagi City, Sakura Country," "The Legacy of the Sun," "My SO Has Got Depression," "Tokyo Refugees" and last year's "A Sower of Seeds 3."
TAKESHI MASU formed a theater company directly after college graduation, and continued to lead it until 2002. He made his film debut in 1981 in Kazuyuki Izutsu's "Gaki Empire" and has appeared in a vast range of film and television roles. His film resume includes "Nin x Nin: Ninja Hattori-kun, the Movie," "Summer Time Machine Blues," "Go Find a Psychic!" "Perfect Blue" and the upcoming "Peach Girl." He first worked with Sasabe on "Gunjoiro no Torimichi" in 2015.
YOKO TAKAHASHI marks her return to the screen after a 28-year break with "Yaeko's Hum." She graduated from the Bungakuza Acting Institute the same year as Yusaku Matsuda, made her film debut in Koichi Saito's "Journey into Solitude" in 1972, and went on to appear in such titles as Kei Kumai's "Sandakan 8" and Shuji Terayama's "Farewell to the Ark." She published her first novel, "Ame ga Suki," in 1981, winning a newcomer award, and has continued to write, releasing her latest novel, "Nopikki An," with Kodansha in 2016. Please make your reservations at the FCCJ Reception Desk (3211-3161) or register below. You may attend the Q&A session without attending the screening, but you will not have seating priority. Please reserve in advance, still & TV cameras inclusive. All film screenings are private, noncommercial events primarily for FCCJ members and their guests.
-Karen Severns, Film Committee