내일로 흐르는 강
Directed by Park Jae-ho
Official Selection, 1995 Vancouver International Film Festival
The landmark BROKEN BRANCHES is also known by its literal translation, “The River Flows to Tomorrow,” which captures the rushing forth of history and a hope for survival. In this case, where that history flows and in what shape that hope takes make for quite an extraordinary vision of progress – especially for Korea in the 1990s and especially on the subject of homosexuality and the family.
Told in three parts, the film follows the narrator Jung-min from birth in the 1950s to adulthood in the 1990s. Through the decline of Jung-min’s patriarchal stepfather and the end of the Park Chung-hee regime, we witness Confucian Korea reconfigure and adapt to liberalization.
What appears at first a conservative historical epic shifts gears in the final section: a party of laughs, cuddly romance, and karaoke charisma. Tonally it’s a shocker but thematically it organically narrates a utopic vision of the family that may not necessarily accept gay sons, but cannot deny their presence. As patriarchy reconfigures vis-à-vis homosexuality, the film itself reconfigures as a comedy. It’s a sensational and radical move, cinematically announcing the presence of homosexuality through the raucous insertion of film genre. It’s perhaps not surprising then that in adulthood Jung-min reveals himself to be not only gay, but also a filmmaker. Just as unsurprising then that BROKEN BRANCHES has thus rushed its own way into history for carving space for a gay voice in Korean cinema. –Brian Hu
Cast: Kim Ye-ryeong, Lee Dae-yeon, Lee In-cheol, Lee hong-seong