South Korea/France, 2009, 92 minutes
Sat, Apr 24 / 1:45 / Kabuki / ABRA24K
Sun, May 02 / 12:15 / Clay / ABRA02Y
Tue, May 04 / 6:45 / Kabuki / ABRA04K
Little Jin-hee sports a sweet, mischievous and open smile for her father, who takes her shopping in the open market and then to dinner. What an adventure! Of him we see only a hand to hold, a jacket dangling at Jin-hee’s level or the back she clings to as they ride home on a bicycle. Remember her smile, for you won’t see it again—something even Jin-hee seems to realize, as she lies open-eyed in bed. The next day, they take a bus to Jin-hee’s future. Ounie Lecomte’s drama, set in a Catholic-run orphanage outside Seoul in 1975, closely limns the experience of an orphan whose parents are very much alive—as was the case for so many Korean children destined for “a better life“ abroad. Neither the kind nuns nor the other children in their practiced eagerness can shake Jin-hee’s determination, first to leave the orphanage then, when adoption seems immanent, to stay. With a focus and intensity that would be admirable in a much older actress, Kim Sae-ron gives an unforgettable performance as Jin-hee, struggling to understand her situation and finally to master her fate. How does first-time director Lecomte elicit a child’s wisdom and turn it into art? The answer lies partly in her own experience as a Korean child adopted by a French couple. The rest we can attribute to her own wisdom in recognizing that children’s lives are not sentimental or tragic, only rich and real.
Presented in association with Center for Asian American Media. New Directors Prize Contender.