Satoshi Fukushima was born in 1962 in Hyogo Prefecture. By the age of 9, he had lost his sight and by 18, his hearing as well. In 1983, he became the first deafblind person in Japan to attend Tokyo Metropolitan University. He later became an associate professor at Kanazawa University and has been a full-time professor at the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology since 2008, making him the first deafblind person in the world to hold such a position. A movie directed by Junpei Matsumoto depicts his early years and the impact his mother had on his upbringing.
My film, “My Mother’s Touch,” will be shown at the Camera Japan Festival.
The film begins with the protagonist as a baby, the youngest of three brothers in a family of five. At this time, the first issue with his eyes is diagnosed. He and his mother spend a great deal of time in the hospital trying to save his eyesight, but unfortunately, their efforts are unsuccessful. Despite facing difficulties, young Satoshi remains one of the top students in his class and maintains an optimistic outlook with the support of his mother. However, when he also begins to lose his hearing, even his natural optimism cannot prevent despair from settling in for him and his family. Both western and eastern medicine fail to provide any comfort, further diminishing any hope they may have had. Eventually, they discover a new way to communicate.
Also, be sure to take a look at this interview.
Junpei Matsumoto is the director of a film that is based on a highly emotional story, which could have easily become a melodrama. However, he skillfully avoids this potential pitfall through various means. Firstly, the main character’s unwavering optimism and determination to never give up lead him to eventual success, despite facing brief moments of despair. Secondly, his family is a constant source of support, even though his father may be strict and distant at times. Lastly, the focus on the mother and her realization that she needs to stay strong for her son also contributes to the overall positive direction of the story, despite moments of weakness.
The movie’s greatest strength lies in the exceptional performances of the two main characters. Koyuki delivers a remarkable portrayal of Reiko Fukushima, portraying all the subtle complexities of a mother juggling the care of her sick child, while also fulfilling her role as a wife to her neglected husband and mother to her other two children. Taketo Tanaka’s performance as Satoshi is equally impressive, showcasing both his optimistic and despondent moments.
Moreover, it can be easily stated that the film not only centers on the protagonist’s heroic journey, but also serves as a tribute to motherhood and the importance of family. This theme is prevalent throughout the entire story.
Yasutaka Nagano’s camera work emphasizes a realistic approach without embellishment, effectively conveying how the world appears to Satoshi as he encounters various challenges. Keita Idano’s editing maintains a consistent pace that complements the overall visual style of the film, though there are some unnecessary scenes (including a beach scene, as usual) that unnecessarily prolong the movie.
However, this is a minor problem in the film, which tells a highly important story and is executed with a captivating sense of balance. “My Mother’s Touch” greatly benefits from Matsumoto’s style and the overall performances.