Short Movie Time: TOMA #2 (2023) [OAFF 2023]


It is not uncommon for people in the world of advertising to seek and carve out a place outside the industry to give expression to a more personal desire to be visually creative. The same is true for Yohei Osabe. Leaving the demands and restrictions of the world of advertising behind, he has created a short film that gives us a peek at the way dementia influences the interactions of a son with his ailing father.  

Osaka Asian Film Festival


Toma (Takashi Yamanaka) and his younger brother Sou (Long Mizuma) have decided to place their father (Kysusaku Shimada), who is suffering from dementia, in a nursing home. While searching for the necessary documents to finalize the application, Toma stumbles on a disposable instant camera. The camera, adorned with the handwritten words Toma #2, contains undeveloped photographs. The discovery causes a concatenation of family memories to blossom in Toma’s mind.

Toma 2# (2023) by Yohei Osabe

Toma 2# is a narrative that elegantly intermingles an objective narrative thread – i.e. Toma and his father driving to the nursing home, with an subjective thread – i.e. the memory fragments that start to blossom within Toma’s mind due to the discovery of the camera.

Yet, the attentive spectator will quickly realize that the bursting forth of memories during the trip to the nursing home have a deeper subjective function for Toma. Whether Toma realizes it or not, this concatenation of memories, all circling around the father-figure, is an attempt to say goodbye to him and help him accept that the subject that carried the fatherly signifier is slowly but radically changing due to the destructive impact of dementia.      

In fact, Toma 2# shows how the bursting forth of dementia impacts the symbolic bond between father and son and problematizes interactions within the imaginary field. While, from Toma’s perspective, the symbolic bond still exists – that’s why he still calls his father ‘oto-san’, the existence of such bond has erased from his father’s mind. This symbolic schism confronts Toma with a difficult-to-resolve conflict: How do you interact with someone who has, due to the impact of dementia, lost his pervious bearings in the symbolic?    

Toma 2# (2023) by Yohei Osabe

What stands out in Asabe’s composition is not merely its peaceful rhythm – a rhythm created by thoughtfully applying the cut, but how contrasts between concatenating shots and shot-compositions are used to elegantly emphasize that what speaks through facial expressions and body movements.    

The staging of the memory fragments is quite effective. Not only does Asabe subtly utilizes dream-like spatial movement to echo the visual fabric memories are made of, but he also highlights the emotional resonance these memories have for Toma by decorating these moments with musical accompaniment that mingles a sense of melancholy with either a dose of subtle appreciative happiness or an infusion of sadness. The tinge of melancholy echoes the fact that the experience itself has passed, while the subtle emotional tone highlights the fact that it has remained as memory, that is, as memory, has impacted Toma’s subject.   

Toma 2# is a touching narrative that explores the difficulty for the subject to give the Othering effect of dementia on a family member a place as well as how supportive physical objects (i.e. photos) can be in allowing the subject to commemorate the symbolic bond of the past.


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