by José Sarmiento

One of the new promising faces in New York’s independent scene is Korean native Juhui Kwon. She has already ventured into filmmaking, standing out with her short film “Moonrise”, an intimate portrait of two reunited friends (a film student and a flight attendant) who share different views of the world and experience life as foreigners in New York.

In her first feature, Kwon returns to what she does best: painting portraits of her own experience as a film student in a foreign city and the questions that arise from the profession of filmmaking and the whole human experience. Like life, cinema has a way of transforming the path and recurrence of time and the filmmaker knows that first hand. As a consequence, her film transcends the arthouse experience to provide a unique insight into the mind of a film student turned filmmaker, a meta language of life which translates into film.

The film is aptly divided in three chapters: Catharsis, Image and Justice. The seemingly naïve tone in which we’re immersed, with pink intertitles and a soft guitar tone, is somewhat deceiving. “In the end, isn’t it the evolution of perception that truly motivates us and our lives, rather than conformed answers or formulas?” says Juhui Kwon about the film, and we’re inclined to believe her. The honesty with which she handles the film overruns any naïve leitmotifs it could bear; in the end, we are experiencing the formulations of a young filmmaker, and the way she bares her soul into what we see in film is remarkable. As a proper disciple of Korean master Hong Sang-Soo, Kwon is slowly building a firm hand to narrate the essential of the quotidian, the genesis of the truth that lies behind cinema.

Aptly titled, Juhui Kwon’s Feature Movie is a wonderful, warm-hearted depiction of the routes of heart and mind in the devious process of filmmaking: Its difficulties, its pretentions, its philosophical questions, its detours and discoveries. Honest to the bone, and bearing a remarkable narrative pulse as a filmmaker, Kwon has made a fantastic venture into the world of cinema, and in doing so, given us the gift of observation and reflection.

You can find more about Juhui and her work in desistfilm 002: here and here.

Director: Juhui Kwon
Script: Juhui Kwon
Cast: Suhown Oh, Myoungjin Choi, Seunghwui, Koo Hyojeong Lee
Cinematography: Tai Kanyarat
Editor: Jeremy Phillips