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So Yong Kim‘s intimate debut feature about a young teenage Korean girl who tries to adapt to American life and the separation of her parents has been beloved by many since it premiered at Sundance in 2006 (the film caught our attention back then as well, as we named Kim one of our “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in ’06). Shot handheld on DV with no score, the film uses its guerilla mentality to put complete focus on its two main characters, Aimie (Jiseon Kim) and her friend Tran (Taegu Andy Kang), a Korean teen who’s a little more Americanized than Aimie. Rarely does Kim ever use a wide shot in the film, instead, tight close-ups or two-shots give the viewer an eavesdropping feel as we follow these two through their daily lives of daydreaming through class, stealing car radios, exploring sex, jealousy and the tension of trying to express their feelings.

Kim has said that the Aimie character was inspired from her teenage years growing up in the L.A. suburbs. Raised by a single mom, there was a sense of separation when it came to talking about love. In the film, Aimie very much wants to display this feeling, especially to her father back home in South Korea. Throughout the film a voiceover of Aimie to her father (we presume she’s writing a letter to him, but it’s never clear) reveals this as she asks him when they will see each other again and if he still loves her.

The performances by Kim and Kang, who never acted before this film, are surprisingly well done as So Yong Kim successfully portrays how it is not only to be a teenager, but the isolation of being an immigrant as well.

Only extra is an interview with Kim and producer/co-writer Bradley Rust Gray. But it includes a funny stories on how they found Kang for the Tran character and the on-set tiffs between the two leads. Kino releases the DVD tomorrow.


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