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TREELESS MOUNTAIN

Director: SO YONG KIM

89 minutes| U.S.A./South Korea| 2008| Subtitled| Colour| Digital


This film was released 8th January 2010, and is no longer screening.

The fortunes of two little Korean girls, seven-year-old Bin and her younger sister Jin, dumped with relatives when their mum heads off to find their errant father, become the stuff of gripping drama in one of the best films ever made about childhood. Director So Yong Kim suffered a similar fate herself when her mother left South Korea to find work in the U.S., but there’s not a hint of self-pity in this vivid account of plucky siblings drawing on their own resources when the boozy aunt supposedly looking after them turns out to be a somewhat fallible carer.
What’s remarkable here is the lack of sentiment and easy audience manipulation. Instead, Kim’s second feature recalls the best of Iranian cinema, or even Jacques Doillon’s Ponette, in the sensitivity and respect with which it observes these tiny human beings – their alertness, instinctive understanding, resilience, and finally optimism in the face of everything that life throws at them. As a result, it’s all the more moving, all the more special. Notes by Trevor Johnston

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