Starring: Baek Jong-Hak, Byeon Jeong-Su, et al.
Director: Jeong Jae-Eun, Im Sun-Rye, Yeo Gyun-Dong, Park Chan-Wuk, Park Jin-Pyo, Park Gwang-Su
Studio: Dae-Gyung DVD
About This DVD
Discrimination can come in all shapes, sizes and colors. This may be why it took six local directors to make one feature film on the subject.
"Yeoseot-gae-eui Shiseon (If You Were Me)" is a compilation of six short films of varying lengths and moods by noted feature filmmakers. The project was organized and funded by the Human Rights Commission of Korea, which asked the directors to each create an episode dealing with the issue of discrimination as they saw fit.
The film first debuted as the opener at the Jeonju International Film Festival in April and has made the rounds at domestic and international film events, most recently screening at last month's Pusan International Film Festival.
Though the responses of festival-goers have been positive, some still questioned whether the film would be commercially viable if released in theaters. Given the short run of "Sontaek (The Road Taken)," another recent feature film with a strong social message, things may not bode well for "If You Were Me" when it opens this Friday.
However, since the film does include new works by such noted directors as Park Chan-wuk (Joint Security Area), it has a fighting chance at the box office. And regardless of its commercial success, the Human Rights Commission and the film's makers should still take satisfaction in the fact that such a feature film was able to find its way to the theater at all.
As for the film itself, the results are predictably disparate, reflecting the different personalities and styles of the participating directors. Along with Park, the film includes some of the more interesting young independent directors, along with a few who are approaching the middle of their careers.
Of the six short films, the ones that seem to work best take on the subject of discrimination head-on. Im Sun-rye's "The Weight of Her," the film's first episode, is an involving look at how the pressure to look thin and beautiful drives students at a commercial high school. Focusing on the experiences of one young student as she tries to meet the approval of her teachers and society, Yim successfully balances the seriousness of the problem with lyricism and humor.
Another winner is "Tongue Tie" by Park Jin-pyo, which shows how far some parents go to have their children speak better English. The story takes place in a pediatrician's office where a young boy undergoes surgery on his tongue to enable him to pronounce the "R" sound more naturally.
The jarringly colorful office with its television monitor playing animations and a nurse dressed up as a bunny rabbit is surreal enough, but more disturbing is how Park takes footage from real tongue surgeries and mixes them into his story. Much like his feature film "Chukodo Chowa (Too Young to Die)," the boundary between fiction and reality becomes blurred with provocative results.
The four other episodes of "If You Were Me" seem less direct and concrete about the nature of discrimination. The most abstract is Jeong Jae-eun's "The Man With an Affair," in which a young bed-wetter crosses paths with a sex offender in an apartment complex where thought control runs rampant. Jeon seems to be criticizing how society tries to use shame as a form of punishment, but her point gets lost in the imagistic narrative.
"Face Value" by Park Gwang-su revolves around an argument between a female employee at a parking garage and a male customer. The director tries to link their fight to the fact that theyHe both good-looking and to their assumptions about each other, but it's a tenuous connection at best.
Yeo Gyun-dong's "Crossing" is a well-intentioned story about the struggles of a handicapped man that just tries to do too much in 14 minutes.
Ending the film is Park's "Never Ending Peace and Love," the astonishing true story of a Nepalese woman who, while working in South Korea, becomes mistaken for a mentally ill Korean after losing her purse and any proof of her identity.
Beginning and ending with the woman back at her home in Nepal, the film tells of how the South Korean people who came in contact with her refused to believe that she wasn't Korean and she ended up spending over six years in a mental institution. Though rough in parts, Park subtly shows the difficulty of being different in a homogenous society through an absurd situation where the opposite was true.
|Audio Format:||DD 5.1 Surround, DD 2.0 Stereo, DTS|
|Video Format:||Widescreen 1.85:1|