By Mónica Delgado

In Brazil, the 6th edition of Olhar de Cinema (Curitiba International Film Festival) has started. This is a space that maintains its bet for the most creative side of independent cinema, and recovering different works seeking to contribute new discussions and dialogues on the nature of cinema. And it is precisely in this edition, which has several Brazilian and Latin American premiere, where a nourished showcase on F.W. Murnau will be shown, an event with ten restored films, remastered pieces by Edward Yang, Jean Renoir or Josef von Sternberg, which in itself affirms the editorial line of this festival, which stablishes correspondences between the past and the present as a permanent act of identification.

In these festival sections, divided in showcases of short and feature films in the official competition Novos Olhares y Outros Olhares, we catched the South Korean film A Quiet Dream, thirteenth film of the Korean filmmaker Lu Zhang.

One could see A Quiet Dream as a slacker film places in Seoul, of people who spend the time wondering on a city suburb, talking, making fun of themselves, reminiscing about the past and keeping company to a friend, an aspiring writer in her difficult life. And it’s through gags, silly jokes or word games that Lu Zhang releases the components of a singular comedy, as in building a fable of different layers around the relation of South Korea and its northern brother. A ghost of the present that Zhang approaches with wit and subtlety.

Zhang, through a carefully shot black and White, stablishes a world of relationships between men and woman, beings that one could find as strange, of an anodyne character, facing “normal” life: a former soldier, an epileptic man, a bipolar man, all of them composing an exploration on social interaction from their differences, after a bigger trauma. And this ghost which we mentioned at the beginning is reflected in some way with the bond that each character has had with the history of the neighbor country, which at the end Zhang elucidates in a real way, like a bucket of cold water. What was the dream? What kind of dream have we seen? These are just some questions that Zhang asks, after making it clear that his comedy wasn’t only an attempt to portrait a group of slackers in a nostalgic Seoul, but also a way to inquire on a past just too latent.

Another point in favor to Zhang is the fact that he reunited three filmmakers for the roles of the slackers: Yang Ik-june y Yoon Jong-bin, who develops similar roles than the ones who were conceived for their actors in their own films. This offers a local Meta textuality, which in sum could be an unimportant anecdotal touch, since the mere design of the characters breaks with the typical idea of a gang, and provokes different lectures on the configuration of friendship and love.

A Quiet Dream is a very political comedy in its own way (the jokes on Kim Jong-un and company are recurrent), a comedy which shapes the longing and resignation before a conflict that is still latent, from an urban gaze.

Director: Zhang Lu
Written by: Zhang Lu
Music: Baek Hyeon-jin
Cinematography: Jo Young-jik (B&W)
Cast: Han Ye-Ri, Yang Ik-June, Yoon Jong-Bin, Park Jung-Bum, Lee Joo-Young
Lu Films
South Korea, 2016