Begun before Maborosi, this documentary records nearly two years in the life of a family faced with an exceptional difficulty. Severe Thiamin deficiency can cause Wernicke's Encephalopathy, a brain disorder which results in total loss of short term memory. Hiroshi Sekine was hospitalised in 1992 for a stomach operation; for five weeks he was fed on a glucose drip which starved his body of vitamins. He emerged with WE and (along with his wife and two sons) has been trying to cope with it ever since. It took the family three years to get a disability pension out of the authorities, and even longer for the government to admit that health service cuts have cost at least 41 lives and damaged many others. In part, Koreeda's film is a protest against medical malpractice and bureaucratic inertia. But it also offers a vision stranger than anything William Gibson might dream up of what it means to start each day with no memory more recent than 1992.
Hiroshi Sekine and his family