The 43 Japan Catholic Award Winner

‘Bokemasukara Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu’
(Please take care of me as I will go senile)

Through the camera, I saw for the first time how thoughtful my parents were to each other. Mother senile at 87, father starting housework at 95.

The ‘I’ in this movie (Producer Naoko Nobutomo) was born and brought up in Kure City, Hiroshima prefecture, and is a TV Director producing documentaries.

She describes in her own words: ‘I moved to Tokyo at the age of 18 to enter university and lived there ever since for nearly forty years. I am the only child and not married, putting everything into my work, remained far away from them but quietly maintained my contact with them.

‘When I was 45 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and my mother lovingly supported me with great good humor. Having survived one of life’s major crisis, thanks to my mother, I started filming my parents. However, through the viewfinder I started to notice changes in my mother’.

While my mother was in distress with illness, my father had to learn how to peel an apple for himself and I was desperately trying make up my mind to give up my job and return home.

That was when my father said ‘I’ll take care of her. You get on with your career!’ It was the time when I began to realize that filming them was indeed my mission.”

It is not uncommon for producers of documentary films to turn their camera towards their own families. To record the family members who remain the closest to you, is in one sense quite natural, but it does present a major dilemma over the objectivity of the documentation.

This is not a question of right or wrong. If you are recording it as a producer, only dispassionate approach will reveal the truth. When recording as a family member, on the other hand, one can capture the closeness of family bonds and therefore move our hearts. Both approaches are deeply meaningful, but to record the family usually requires a whole-hearted commitment to one another.

Here, we have a production with a miraculous combination of both the approaches. The documentary producer is the only daughter of an 87-year old mother suffering from senile dementia who is being taken care of by her 95-year old husband. The screen speaks to us with both of their voices harmoniously intertwined.

When the mother, overwhelmed by emotions, tells her daughter ‘Stop the camera’, the daughter continues calmly, sustained by the overflowing current of love. Like these moments, the camera captures and reveals to us the precious truth hidden behind the events it confronts. Here, recording is itself an act of love. And this is how the producer can convey an impartial insight into events experienced subjectively within her own family. The society needs insights like these today.

After seeing this documentary, those three people are no longer strangers to us. Nor can we feel disconnected from those who have seen it with us. Has any other movie ever made us all feel so much like a family?

This is a precious film and amply fulfills the objectives of the Catholic Film Award.