On Chuseok afternoon, I went to Haeundae Beach for a walk. Clouds were clear against the tall, blue sky. People were walking along the beach with their masks on, and on the sand were a group of boys playing soccer in their bathing suits. They were French boys who could not be more than sixteen or seventeen. As I watched the boys run around, I wondered how they came to Korea in these times.
The sleek backs of the boys sparkled like fish under the autumn sun. At the end of the match, the boys disappeared, and I felt as if a short film ended without reaching its end. As I was pondering which films to introduce through this brief letter, I decided to focus on those that center on youth or have teenage protagonists.
The Salt of Tears Dir. Philippe Garrel
Director Philippe Garrel is known for thematizing youth and suffering caused by love. The Salt of Tears is a black-and-white film that follows the journey of Luc, who is caught between girls. Garrel, an eminent filmmaker in his seventies, pursues the style and romanticism of the French New Wave in smoothly painting the portrait of the youths in love without any prejudgment about his characters.
Gagarine Dir. Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh
Gagarine is a film reminiscent of Les Misérables, which we introduced last year. Named after the first astronaut Yuri Gagarin, Gagarine is a city in the suburbs of Paris constructed in 1963 and demolished in 2019. Directors Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh filmed on location at the buildings of Gagarine before their destruction in 2019. With a lens of great poetry, the two filmmakers transform this abandoned city into an immense spaceship. No one knows where Yuri, a 16-year-old boy who used to float like a weightless cosmonaut around this abandoned city, has disappeared to.
Spring Blossom Dir. Suzanne Lindon
Twenty-year-old Suzanne Lindon is an actress-director in her feature debut Spring Blossom. It is an absolutely adorable film reminiscent of Claude Miller’s La Petite Voleuse (1988) starring 16-year-old Charlotte Gainsbourg. A young director’s brilliant imagination transforms this tale of adolescence from a film to a play and from a play to a musical.
Summer of 85 Dir. François Ozon
François Ozon created Summer of 85 by adding biographical elements to Aidan Chambers’ novel, Dance on My Grave (1982). Music plays a big role in the film: Ozon changed the title from Summer of 84 to incorporate the 1985 pop song, “In Between Days” by The Cure.
Teddy Dir. Ludovic Boukherma and Zoran Boukherma
Anthony Bajon, who received the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the Berlin International Film Festival, plays a werewolf in Teddy, a metaphor for a lonely youth who cannot outgrow his deplorable environment; and Leo in The Third War, a new recruit who collapses after fighting with an invisible enemy. In Night of the Kings, director Philippe Lacôte discusses the political situation in Cote d’Ivoire through a 17-year-old boy who must entertain inmates with stories all night in order to survive.
Ibrahim Dir. Samir Guesmi
Youth is self-assured, our passionate protagonists face life head on over and over again. A boy who has lost his love dances on top of a grave (Summer of 85). A 15-year-old skier Lyz decides escape the unequal power dynamic with her coach (Slalom). A first-year law student Luisa wonders if violence is warranted for her political conviction (And Tomorrow the Entire World). An impoverished high schooler Ibrahim demands that the dentist give his dad’s new dentures, promising that he will pay him back later (Ibrahim). I only learned after watching Rival that a 9-year-old child cries like a beast after being left alone in the world where he cannot communicate.
Like the young football players from faraway France that I came across on Haeundae Beach, I eagerly await the day I will be able to meet our youthful protagonists and filmmakers along with audiences.
By World Cinema Programmer SEO Seunghee
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