LAND WITHOUT PEOPLE
Directed by Mooyoung Kim
In 2009, a large and influential Koreatown church in Los Angeles purchased an affordable housing complex merely to evict the tenants, demolish it, and build a parking lot for its congregation. A rare look at the entanglement of church, capitalism, and class in a striated immigrant community, LAND WITHOUT PEOPLE is an introspective hybrid documentary that follows an undocumented Korean couple as they explore options and try to gain clarity on their eviction.
A mix of reenactment and documentary footage, LAND WITHOUT PEOPLE introduces us to a range of stakeholders including church leaders, immigrant lawyers, community activists, and long-term senior residents. What emerges is the vexing shadow that capitalist logics cast over ethical orienteering amongst everyday people, especially when the corporation is the church – the ultimate moral franchise.
The title alone is a provocation pointing to the foundational fantasy on which America was built – a frontier of empty land as manufactured as smooth concrete. However, LAND WITHOUT PEOPLE isn’t an agitating critique. The film moves like a slow afternoon walk with an intimate sense of time before a big life change. The pace is effortless and deliberate, simultaneously real-time and retrospective. A moody final gesture scored with a Korean golden oldie crooning over the sunset is as bleak and heart-pumping as any noir. –Christina Ree
Co-Presenter: AAPI Democratic Club
Jiacheng Xu / China, USA / 2017 / 36 minsMeet Yi, an undocumented immigrant now living in Virginia and toiling as a cook in a Chinese restaurant. But this is no pity doc about the hard knock life. As director Jiacheng Xu zooms out to Yi’s larger ambitions and networks of cash, we feel the immensity of a community and its shadow economy emerge matter-of-factly across state lines.
Precedes: LAND WITHOUT PEOPLE