Films: Dance Town

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Dance Town

Dance Town

South Korea, 2010, 95 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Drama, Korean, Social Issues
Programs: Contemporary World Cinema, Focus on a National Cinema: South Korea
Language: Korean English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Jeon Kyu-hwan
Producer: Mi-ae Choi
Editor: Jong-hoon Han
Screenwriter: Jeon Kyu-hwan
Cinematographer: Young-Sun Choi
Principal Cast: Mi-ran Ra, Seong-tae Oh, Jun-hyeok Lee, Yu-rang Joo, Yong-ju Lee

The final installment of up-and-coming Korean writer-director Jeon Kyu-hwan’s Town Trilogy, Dance Town, tells the story of North Korean couple Jung Man-il and his wife Ri Jeong-rim. She is a former professional table-tennis player; now middle-aged, she and her husband live in a bleak apartment near Pyonyang, sparsely decorated only with portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jung-il. As the couple plots to defect to South Korea, Man-il, who travels to China on business, is arrested and jailed for possessing foreign goods. His wife manages to escape on a boat and soon gets South Korean citizenship.

In her new home, she’s given job training and a government-owned apartment, overseen by an agent in charge of keeping an eye on new residents, Kim Song-heui. Though she tries to adapt, Jeong-nim remains alienated. She takes a menial job at a laundry, but despite her newfound freedom in this land so different from the one just across the border, she feels alone. Even as Oh, a local policeman, asks her on dates and a group of misfits become her friends—among them a pregnant and suicidal teenager and a disabled man—she dwells on her own troubles, becoming more and more preoccupied with her imprisoned husband, playing the videos they used to watch when they were together. Jeong-rim is on the verge of spiraling into despair; will ever see each other again?

Urban loneliness is a central theme in the Town Trilogy; Jeon uses his signature removed style behind the camera to depict the isolation his characters feel. Mozart Town and Animal Town, the other two films in the Town Trilogy, can also be seen at SDFF34.
—REBECCA CARO

Sponsored by Asian Art Coordinating Council, Denver Chapter of the National Unification Advisory Council


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