Friday, 23 December 2011

Treeless Mountain

So Yong Kim a Korean-American writer and director spent her early childhood in Pusan, South Korea on her grandparents rice farm while her divorced mother was away in America to find a better life for herself and her family. It was these experiences that inspired her second feature film, the wonderful Treeless Mountain (2008).

When their mother needs to leave in order to find their estranged father, seven-year-old Jin and her younger sister, Bin, are left to live with their Big Aunt for the summer. With only a small piggy bank and their mother’s promise to return when it is full, the two young girls are forced to adapt to changes in their family life. Counting the days, and the coins, the two bright-eyed young girls eagerly anticipate their mother’s return. But when the piggy bank fills up, and with their mother still not back, Big Aunt decides that she can no longer tend to the children so the two sisters are taken to live on their grandparent’s farm in the county side.

Seven year old Hee Yeon Kim and five year old Song Hee
The charm of this simple and unpretentious film is in the near perfect performances the director solicits from the two young leads and how their characters learn to cope with life’s intricacies. Jin is played by seven-year-old Hee Yeon Kim who was chosen to play the part after So Yong Kim visited 14 elementary schools and kindergartens in Seoul City. Five-year-old Song Hee was living at the Wonjoo Children's House (an orphanage) when she was given the part of the younger sister Bin. As Korean children are well disciplined it was apparently easy to work with them and it shows in the film. The low camera angles tell this agreeable story from their prospective. A quite and subtle experience, ideal for family viewing, but I don’t think I going to be eating roast grasshoppers any time in the future!

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