THE WORLD OF US
Directed by Yoon Ga-eun
Official Selection, 2016 Berlin International Film Festival
Official Selection, 2016 Toronto International Film Festival
Official Selection, 2016 Udine Far East Film Festival
The littlest hearts break the hardest. At home, ten-year-old Sun can appease her alcoholic father, but there’s not a whole lot she can do at school, where she is constantly subjected to petty bullying by her catty classmates. Things look up when a new kid named Jia transfers into Sun’s class. Sun and Jia become inseparable in and out of school, but the lingering fear that Jia will be corrupted by the in-crowd looms over Sun, as well as the audience.
What plays out is in fact more complex than mere schoolyard alliances, and director Yoon Ga-eun ambitiously but naturalistically shows how the world of kids are extensions of the world of adults: class jealousy, social ranking, family responsibility. When Sun makes a bracelet for her new friend, it’s a simple gesture of affection, but also a symbol of poverty, an unequal transaction that nobody, let alone kids, should have to enter into or parse out.
Yoon directs such scenes patiently, allowing the audience to see the emotional traps society has set for its children. But it’s her cast of young actors who most compellingly show the toll of weathering the trials of hope. Jia is played by the taller Seol Hye-in, whose entrance in the film is a godsend, but who physically and emotionally looks down on Sun with a face that seems unused to smiling. And then there’s Choi Soo-in as the central character, who lifts herself up with pride, hair perfectly barretted with the precision only a ten-year-old could understand, swallowing the distraught adults have long accepted as normal. –Brian Hu
Co-presented by: KABA-SD
Writer: Ga-Eun Yoon
Starring: Seol Hyein, Kang Minjun, Choi Sooin