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USA, 1997 (MIFF 1998, International Panorama)

Director: Harmony Korine

Harmony Korine, the 23 year old writer of divisive and inflammatory teen smash Kids, has taken the reins himself. Equally as confrontational and disturbing, Gummo has elicited enormous critical and audience praise at London, Toronto and Rotterdam Film Festivals. Moving from the urban confines of Manhattan, the Kids locale, Korine turns to the tiny, isolated and largely destroyed town of Xenia, Ohio. This blindingly dull burg was almost demolished by a tornado a few years prior and its inhabitants aren't in much better shape.

Possessed of its own narrative and visual style, just as comfortable with crash edit jump cuts as visuals derived from polaroids, video and Super-8 footage, Gummo paints a rowdy, ethically impoverished and often unpalatable portrait of modern youth.

Episodic in structure Gummo follows incidents in the lives of a ragged collection of misfits. Solomon is a skinny 14 year old who lives with a violent and confused white trash mother. His best friend Tummler endures similar domestic 'bliss', co-habiting with an alcoholic, terminally grieving, widower father. The pair waste their days huffing glue and killing stray cats for a bounty. Any moral awareness is completely alien to them. This strange, introverted world is further peopled by similarly desperale types: snowy haired sisters Dot and Helen who have a sleazy tabloid journalist making overtures to them and Bunny Boy, a half-naked skafeboarder who wears huge pink rabbit ears and encounters incomprehension and violence everywhere.

Destined for the (film) history books and not be be omitted from any MIFF devotees' screening schedule. Be warned this film is not for the faint-hearted - prepare yourself.

Born in 1974 in California, Harmony Korine grew up in New York and Nashville. At the age of 19 he wrote the script for Larry Clark's controversial Kids (1995). Korine cites Fellini, Herzog and Cassavetes as influences on his style, the latter guiding his use of improvisation and non-professional actors. Gummo is Korine's first feature.

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