KANG MIN KIM
filmmaker, designer based on LA
film by Kangmin Kim
sound, music by Barrett Slagle
produced by open the portal, studio zazac
executive producer: Kijin Kim
My mother's dreams have always been strong premonitions for important moments in my life. I rely on her dreams more than any religion.
Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival
Korea Independent Animation Festival
Ottawa Animation Festival
Stop Motion Montreal
Asiana International Short Film Festival
Fantoche Animation Festival
Fantasia International Film Festival
San Diego Asian Film Festival
Sweaty Eyeballs Animation Festival
Bilbao International Festival of Documentary and Short Films
PÖFF Short Film and Animation Festival
Sundance film festival
Ann Arbor film festival
Grand Prize / OTTAWA International Animation Festival 2020 (OSCAR qualifying)
Public Prize / OTTAWA International Animation Festival 2020
Special Jury Recognition for Innovation / SXSW 2021
Grand Prize / Korea Independent Animation Festival 2020
Sound, Music Prize / Korea Independent Animation Festival 2020
Best Independent Film / Stop Motion Montreal 2020
Best Animation Short Film / International Festival of Documentary and Short Film of Bilbao 2020 (OSCAR qualifying)
Juror Honorable Mention / sweaty eyeballs animation 2020
Darcy Paquet' review on KKUM
The 9-minute stop motion short film KKUM (which means "dream" in Korean) is bookended, appropriately enough, by a phone conversation. A phone call is a tenuous (but when you stop to think about it, somewhat miraculous) connection between two people separated in space. A mother, hit with a sense of foreboding, reaches out across vast distances to check if her son is okay. There is another kind of connection that transcends space, and that links this particular mother and son: namely, the mother's dreams.
When the mother dreams of fire, it predicts the fulfillment of a wish, or a passed exam. Insects indicate recovery from illness, and a pumpkin foretells the conceiving of a child. Long after the son has left home and embarked on life as an adult, his mother's dreams and prayers continue to watch over him, and envelop him in a protective shield.
Animation, with its ability to reproduce a wide spectrum of forms, textures, and colors, is a natural medium for portraying dreams. But Kim largely restricts himself to foam, foam core, and Styrofoam in the making of this work. The materials are ordinary, but the results are not: he is able to create astonishing images thanks to precise, subtle lighting and sharp black-and-white photography. Even the film's most startling special effect, when various forms display sudden bursts of growth, was achieved with a very straightforward method: burning pieces of Styrofoam, and playing back the footage in reverse. This film is a prime example of the adage that less (when utilized properly) is more.
It's ironic that Styrofoam is sometimes used as a metaphor for the lifeless or the emotionless; a sentence that begins with the words, "Your Styrofoam heart..." is unlikely to end well. But the miracle of KKUM is that it is so emotional. Kim's soft-spoken narration and thoughtfully crafted images re-create the world of his mother's dreams in loving detail. The image of the mother herself seems crudely drawn at first glance, but quickly becomes imbued with emotional power. Pervading the film is a low foreboding of danger; of life's ever-present potential to bring sudden misfortune. But the figure of the mother, and the dreams she sees at night, do act as a kind of antidote. There is a love and painful intimacy in this mother's dreams. Despite the cold, monochrome aesthetics of this film, the foam hearts of mother and son beat with an unexpected warmth.
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