by Nav Qateel
This year has seen some good animated shorts come from all corners of the globe, but thanks to South Korea's KoBiz Online Screening initiative, we've been given access to films that we in the West rarely have easy access to. INFLUX Magazine will have regular reviews from the very latest South Korean talent, covering films from every genre including both feature-length and short film. All three animated shorts are a mix of genres and are from new rising female talents with different disciplines.
Official Synopsis: Doo-na is a young day laborer who works as a salesperson at a supermarket. One day, Doo-na feels so sick that she sends her cat to work. The supermarket manager, who sees Doo-na’s cat selling more goods than Doo-na, fires Doo-na and hires her cat. To get revenge, Doo-na visits the supermarket.
Review: From first-time female director HUH Su-young, Buy One, Get One Free is as quirky as it is amusing. We see the breakdown of a very unusual relationship, between Doo-na and her talking cat. Jealousy at the cat's obvious superior talent drives Doo-na to get revenge, which results in chaos for the pair of them.
HUH Su-young shows a definite flair for humor with a great eye for what works, and one can only assume this short film will be a stepping stone to eventual bigger and better things. What we will have to wait and see is if the young director can create a second and third film with the same level of skill before we'll know for sure.
Official Synopsis: Hee-seo’s mom passes away from an unknown illness, leaving her young son with her husband. Hee-seo’s father, a one-time marathon winner, still lives in the past of his triumphant days and demands success and victory from Hee-seo. Introverted Hee-seo practices for the school competition as his father has suggested, and the competition day nears.
Review: From first-time director ROH Young-mee, our second talented female filmmaker, Ah Ah Ah examines the pressure put on the young to be as successful as their parents. With Hee-seo having just lost his mother, this adds an extra dimension to this fantasy animation, however, while I certainly understood most of what was being presented by the mother dying, I found some of this part of the story rather impenetrable. Yet that is often the way with Asian fantasy.
I especially loved the style in which Ah Ah Ah was animated, with stop-motion being among my favorite. The crudeness of the animated pieces can be just as endearing as the movement and the dialog. Even though part of the film's message was lost to me, this film was the one I enjoyed the most.
Official Synopsis: Mina lives with her sick mother in an old apartment building. Mina’s mother suffers from a disease that turned her into a monster in a cocoon. Mina tries hard to take care of her mother, but her mother’s condition worsens and is on the brink of death. Mina’s boyfriend, Chul-gu, starts to become suspicious of her family.
Review: From our final first-time director, YEO Eun-a, our third film is Cocoon, a striking and bizarre horror. Mina has given up hope of a normal life to look after her sick mother, but the mother's "condition" is far from anything that can be treated by any sort of doctor. Mina is hopelessly tied to the strange relationship she has with her mother, yet it's clear she wants to be free from the burden. To say more would give away the reveal and that's a big part of the film.
The black and white hand-drawn style was perfect for the ugly subject matter that YEO Eun-a was tackling, as before we even learned what it was that ailed Mina's mother, we knew it wouldn't be anything pretty. I would like to see YEO Eun-a do more horror in that angry style of hers, as each line of the animation almost had a life of its own.