TKFF Review: Korean-Canadian Shorts

While the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF) officially kicked off with the screening of The World of Us (우리들) later in the evening, the first screening of this year’s festival was a screening of 11 Korean-Canadian shorts. The screening of shorts was made up of short documentaries, fictional and animated shorts so there was something for everyone. I loved the variety of subject matter from heartwarming documentaries to unrequited love to experimental film to zombies… there was lots of viewing fun.

Mini Reviews of the Shorts

Courtesy of TKFF
Courtesy of TKFF

My Enemy, My Brother 

14 minutes | Directed by: Ann SHIN | Documentary | Canada 2015

This documentary introduces two former combatants from the Iran-Iraq war who meet again in Canada, 25 years after one saved the other. It’s both heartwarming in how it shows the good of humanity in horrible times as well as sad in its depiction of the lasting aftereffects of war.

Courtesy of TKFF
Courtesy of TKFF

Julio

5 minutes | Directed by: Eui Yong Zong | Documentary | Canada 2015

Shot with lots of close-ups, this short documentary is both a heartwarming and depressing depiction of family. It’s hard to imagine the pressure that 17 year old Claudia must feel as she was left to take care of her brother after both parents left them but it’s her love for him that comes through in the short more than anything else.

Courtesy of TKFF
Courtesy of TKFF

Sun

11 minutes | Directed by: Eui Yong Zong | Drama | Canada 2015

This was one of the shorts I have previously seen (you can read my interview with the director here), it’s a tale of unrequited love and lost chances made even more interesting as it’s set in Toronto’s Koreatown, a neighbourhood I walk through daily. The director’s use of close-ups and music turn the hair washing scene, something so normal, into something very sensual.

Courtesy of TKFF
Courtesy of TKFF

Flamenco 

12 minutes | Directed by: Gloria Ui Young KIM | Drama | Canada 2015

This was another of the shorts I have previously seen (you can read my interview with the director here). Flamenco is a short about passion and dance, and it will have you wondering what’s real and what’s not. Part of the film is shot differently so that it looks like a dreamscape which only adds to the mystery of the short. Is it a tale about lost love and obsession or is it just the passion of the dance?

Courtesy of TKFF
Courtesy of TKFF

Negative Reversal

3 minutes | Directed by: Samuel Kiehoon LEE | Experimental, Visual Art | Canada 2015

This experimental film is visually interesting as we watch people walk both forward and backwards, and through them see the world they’re in (Hongdae in this case). I found it very appealing, although my eyes were more caught on the glimpses of what was behind the people than the people themselves.

Courtesy of TKFF
Courtesy of TKFF

Negative Strobe

3 minutes | Directed by: Samuel Kiehoon LEE | Experimental, Visual Art | Canada 2015

A second experimental short by the same director, it was similar but different. While the first seemed more friendly and about the people connecting with each other and their environment; this was more foreboding, especially with the building music, and seemed to question what we leave behind (as each person left a brief impression of themselves) or if we leave anything?

Courtesy of TKFF
Courtesy of TKFF

Dead Friends 

1 minute 45 seconds | Directed by: Changsik LEE |Animation | Canada 2015

This was by far my favourite short of the night for a variety of reasons, not in the least because it was fun seeing a zombie apocalypse set in Toronto. Despite the main character being a zombie, it was still a sweet film with the interaction between the old zombie and his dog. See, true love does survive the zombie apocalypse.

Courtesy of TKFF
Courtesy of TKFF

Sunny Shower

1 minute 20 seconds | Directed by: Hyunjoo YANG | Animation | Canada 2010

Cute and visually appealing, this short animation didn’t really have much of a story but was adorable nonetheless. Very imaginative – loved how the raining umbrellas turned into flowering trees.

Courtesy of TKFF
Courtesy of TKFF

Treasure King

1 minute 25 seconds | Directed by: Jihyeon Annie JANG | Animation | Canada 2015

This one struck me as being a short that could easily be fleshed out into something longer. Not that it wasn’t good how it was but it almost seemed like there was more to the story.

Courtesy of TKFF
Courtesy of TKFF

The Box

1 minute 42 seconds | Directed by: Ruby LEE | Animation | Canada 2015

An interesting short animation with weird characters, other than the girl. The characters, imagination and story all combine to make it seem longer than it was as there was just so much packed into it. Fun!

Courtesy of TKFF
Courtesy of TKFF

The Monkey Hunter 

7 minutes | Directed by: Taylor YEO | Animation | Canada 2009

I loved the symbolism in this tale of greed. The longest of all the animation, it had a moral for the audience that was easy to see – don’t be greedy. An interesting short.

Final Thoughts

While I had seen a couple of the shorts previously, it was fun seeing the combination of short documentaries, fictional shorts and animation. I was a little disappointed in the few members of the audience that didn’t stay for the animation as they were good and among my favourite of the evening.

One of the things that I love about TKFF is their Korean-Canadian showcase as supporting local artists is key to not only growing the festival but also building the community and strengthening our country. Diversity is a huge part of what makes Canada wonderful and encouraging all forms of the arts is invaluable. And that’s my mini-rant of the day. ^^

Seriously, shorts programs are great ways to support young filmmakers and I encourage you all to watch them if you can. And this Korean-Canadian shorts showcase was no different. It was an interesting mix of films, genres and subjects.

Disclosure: While not involved in any way in selection of films or programming, I am the chair of the board of directors for the Toronto Korean Film Festival. However, the opinions expressed are mine and not that of the festival. 

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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