Director: Anthony Shim
Featuring: Choi Seung-yoon, Ethan Hwang, Dohyun Noel Hwang, Anthony Shim
Languages: English, Korean subtitled in English
Runtime: 117 minutes
Content advisory: themes of racism, mental illness, and drug use
The opening night selection for this year’s KCFF is a special film by anyone’s standards. The second feature by Vancouver-based actor and filmmaker Anthony Shim, this poignant drama is both acutely specific to the experience of a Korean immigrant family in the 90s Canadian suburbs, and profoundly universal as a heart-wrenching story of a mother and son whose close bond is threatened by great changes and challenges. Choi Seung-yoon is spellbinding as So-Young, a woman who must rebuild her life after leaving South Korea and arriving in Canada with her headstrong son Dong-hyun (played as a boy by Dohyun Noel Hwang and by Ethan Hwang as a teen). The push-and-pull dynamic that exists in any parent-child relationship is exacerbated by the unspoken pains of the characters’ past. Their tensions and sorrows are leavened by displays of resilience and moments of joy, all of which makes for a film of rare richness and power.