We’re under a film festival avalanche these days!
Cinetalk has been very busy lately. This is one of the positive effects of the global pandemic. We now have access to many more cultural events online. But they sometimes come all at once! This is the case in November, but for the first time, we have the privilege of covering the Korean Film Festival Canada. The KFFC is already in its 7th year, but still feels like a young festival. The 2020 version allows festival-goers in Korea and in Canada to participate together, despite geography and time zones. This year, there is a focus on female creators. From both countries, there is a diverse selection of shorts, documentaries, feature films, and multimedia presentations under the umbrella of Narrative Beyond Borders: Korean New Cinema by Women Directors.
Women have a particular way of seeing the world and showing their vision of that world.
One film that has a feminine touch throughout, with its keen observations and portrayal of relationships, is A Boy and Sungreen. Ahn Ju-Young’s first feature is about sensitive and frail 14-year old, Lee Bo-hee. The lad has a very rude nickname. People pick on him and call him Lee Bo-ji – a homonym for “Pussy”. Like with our parents, alas, we don’t get a choice in our given name. When we’re a kid, we’re stuck with both, whether good or bad. But Bo-hee isn’t even sure who his real dad is. For undisclosed reasons, his mum told him his dad died. But when he thinks his departed dad is still around, he decides to seek him out.
This quite charming boy is inseparable with a girl whose name translates to Sungreen (Nok-yang). In Korea it’s quite unusual for co-eds to be bosom buddies without any dating intention. So of course, they get teased for that too. But Nok-yang is more carefree than her weak counterpart. The pair decides to go on a double mission. While Bo-hee looks for his father, Nok-yang films what she hopes might become a documentary one day. About what she isn’t sure and frankly, doesn’t care. But Bo-hee’s search is decent fodder for her cell phone videos.
Why did Bo-hee’s mother fib about her ex-husband? What makes the kids best friends? Why does an unusual big-brother figure step in to look after Bo-hee? Relationships are complicated, but Ahn strips them down to something even a 14-year old could interpret. She shows instead of telling the viewer why and how certain connections are the way they are.
Bo-hee hopes for a father who isn’t a bad guy. He fears the reason for his absence is something sinister. But when he finally understands, he is able to let go of everything. Of being abandoned, of being sickly, and of even being called Pussy. Largely an essay about orphans and mono-parental families, A Boy and Sungreen lets a sweet kid come to terms with his birth family’s idiosyncrasies, and form his own chosen family.
A Boy and Sungreen:
Korean Film Festival Canada – On Demand, October 29th – November 30th, 2020