Is this another lost-in-transition tale of Asian immigrants? Not even close. Heesook Sohn’s directorial debut, Happy Family, is a rare gem – a simultaneously hilarious and painful portrait of her own fractured family that makes the Addams Family look like the Huxtables.
At the heart of the film is the patriarch – her father, Younghyn. He is both the centre of the family and also the film’s comedic soul. Some of the funniest moments come from just observing the man himself sleeping or golfing in his own home. Though these events sound mundane, but the resulting effect is one of sheer deadpan slapstick.
But beyond the bizarre antics of this man lies a host of inner turmoil, from adultery to illness and estrangement. Having moved with Heesook to the US and abandoning his wife and two other children in South Korea, he built a successful career while his marriage slowly disintegrated. The three children, in turn, are affected by the separation and the very different environments in which they grew up in.
Straddling no less than three continents, Heesook Sohn chronicles a family struggling to reconcile their past while overcoming both geographical and emotional rifts. It is a bold, fascinating and affecting portrait of the Asian diaspora in the 21st century.
Sherry, Like The Drink
Director: Jonathan Ng | Canada 2003 | 3:00 | Video
A charming animated film, narrated by a rhyme, that celebrates the life of Sherry Ng. The title comes from a catch phrase that she used when she introduced herself to people.
Pol Pot’s Birthday
Director: Talmage Cooley| USA 2004 | 10:00 | Video | Toronto Premiere
It’s the notorious Khmer Rouge dictator’s birthday. How will he and his closest henchmen celebrate? Believe us: the result is sheer deadpan drollery!
Heesook Sohn was born in 1969 in Seoul, Korea. She immigrated to Los Angeles in 1980 but now lives in Berlin, Germany. She studied art at the School of Visual Arts, New York and directing at the dffb, German Film- and TV Academy, Berlin. Before her feature film debut Happy Family, she has made a succession of shorts such as Lost and Found (1996), Ich liebe dich (1997), 4:00 AM (1998), Bunte Wäsche (1999) and Fate in C Minor (2001). Her next feature is Porno!Melo!Drama!, currently in production.