Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Notes on Woorideul (The World Of Us) by Yoon Ga-eun, Korea: 2016-Berlin Filmfest 2016V.-Generation





I do not know if the English film title is a correct translation but it is a very good title. “Coming Of Age” films were made in nearly all periods of the history of cinema – and nearly in all geographical regions. Woorideul is one of them, a story very often told but with a surprising refreshing approach. Yoon Ga-eun uses a lot of close-ups and medium shots in this film about girls at the age around 10. Their quarrels, their mobbing against each other gets a special weight. Usually quarrels among children are often trivialized by adults. In a lot of scenes the world of children is isolated from the world of the adults. The “little worries” of the girls, their quarrels and yes - the sometimes shocking psychological cruelty made me often breathless. There is nothing really “cute” in this film and just during the first 20 minutes, I was quite impressed about a sharp observation of this young filmmaker just very near to Yasujiro Ozu or Hong Sang-soo. Sometimes childhood seems here like a hotbed of social discrimination and prejudice. The little brother of Sun often fights with his friend and gets often injured which is again trivialized by Sun´s parents. Cruelty between children seems to be invisible for the adults. Only the teacher sees the cruelty that the parents don´t see or don´t want to see. The problems of the adults, in this case the parents of the girls drop very subtle in the world of children. Sun´s father is an alcoholic and has a very difficult relationship to his own father who is going to die. Sun´s mother is occupied by her own work and very busy to ensure the economical surviving of the family.
Another convincing aspect of this film is the use of an almost unforced plot. Events rather happen than being invented. The worlds of the adults and the worlds of children are sometimes isolated from each other and when they cross over, nothing good happens. Sun´s father, the drinker seems to be a loser, an image his daughter has as well to struggle with in school.

The “Coming Of Age” film as a very important sub genre in the history of cinema has two legitimate aspects, one is the dream of the lost paradise of childhood, the other aspect is the long forgotten nightmare of childhood, the obvious and subtle cruelty children are exposed to. Woorideul (which is belongs to the second variation) is a merciless anti- nostalgic look on childhood. But it is as well a film full of subtle cinematic intelligence. Just to mention the small flat where Sun´s family lives in, how the small family is moving in it in the contrast to the much bigger house where Sun´s classmate Jia lives with her grandmother offer an exiting visual relationship between human beings and space.. How these children move through very spacious or narrow interiors or in open space is only one example for a refreshing clear cinematic approach. It is a very serious film because the directors takes her young protagonists very serious. The so-called “small quarrels” give already an idea of the world these girls will grow into. But like always, cinema can offer both, a painfully precision in looking to the world but as well a certain affectionateness. There is also a certain sincerity in this film and a huge confidence in its audience if the very young or old one.

What I already guessed and what I have read later in the director´s statement in the press map was about the autobiographical inspiration for this film. Well, for a film which is such sincere, a film where any emotion seems to be rather lived than invented -  it does not surprise me at all. Woorideul is the first long feature film of a young Korean filmmaker called Yoon Ga-eun. And it is both: a promising look into the future of cinema  but at the same time it seems to be made with the wisdom of an old master.

Rüdiger Tomczak

Screenings:

FRI, Feb 19 Haus der Kulturen der Welt     10.00
Sun Feb 21 Filmtheater am Friedrichshain 15.30


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