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Korean animation package review: Scripting the human template through film

A provocative collection of short animation films, this section’s diverse impressionable palette explored the radical possibilities of South Korea’s contemporary animation films.

Animated documentary filmmaker Nina Sabnani with programmer Lee Kyung Hwa, Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival.

Prateek Rawat

Day 2 of the 14th IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival saw the screening of the Korean Animation Package at the India International Centre, New Delhi. A collection of 14 short animation films by professional women filmmakers and graduate school projects from the Republic of Korea, this package was curated by Indian animated documentary filmmaker Nina Sabnani in association with programmer Lee Kyung Hwa, Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival.

Sabnani introduced the package at the screening by focusing on the “varied themes and forms” of the films which may be “funny and provocative yet always heart rending” as they explore issues around “relationships, identity and isolation.”

Jang Nari’s My Father’s Room and Cho Minji’s Hollow Town are deeply provocative tales of domestic violence, traumatic childhood, the seemingly endless perpetration of violence and a searing pain of betrayal that never quite goes away.

Hangbo Saebyu’s You Are My Sunshine, Yu Jaehee & Min Jihye’s Mother and the Cuckoo Clock, Kim Jinjoo’s Bon Voyage and Eom Hyun-ah’s Two Women are heart wrenching tales of love and tragic loss, commentaries on the ways the passing of a loved one leaves people with a barrage of emotions, and the possibility of healing — if at all.

Kim Eungkyu’s Change, Kim A-young’s The Café, Kim Minhye’s The Great hand and the Bulgasari, and Oh Jihyeon’s Manimals are experiments in science fiction, fantasy horror or fable genres which explore grave social issues of dictatorship and exploitation, as well as personal relationships and their transformations.

Kang Heekyung’s Rainbow, Kim Jagyeong’s Reverence and Kim Seung-hee’s The Realm of Deepest Knowing delve into questions of identity, perseverance, and awareness about the true worth and nature of one’s self.

Musing on the dark and dreary tones of some of the themes in response to a question, Lee Kyung Hwa suggested the contemporary use of animation by young filmmakers lies in exploring its possibilities to voice in radical tones their encounter with disillusionment and social realities, alongside the conventional light heartedness of the genre.

The thematic diversity and multiplicity of narratives is complimented by a varied experimentation with form. A strong cinematic sensibility, effective and impressionable condensation of sprawling narratives into affective key images, experimentation with abstractness or realism, dexterous use of verisimilitude in infusing immediate meaning to the images are some of the many ways deployed by these films in pushing the ballot of animation as a transformative form of storytelling.

As stark and impressionable vignettes of the human condition, the films of the Korean Animation Package deployed a myriad ways of storytelling, through inflections in styles and voices, forms and colours as they deftly tackled the nuances of everyday experiences which characterize the being of our personal, social, political and spiritual spaces. 

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IAWRT Asian Women's Film Festival