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Korea, 1998 (MIFF 1999, Regional Features)

Director: Lee Kwang-Mo

"As soon as we saw the first image of this film, it was perfectly obvious to us that a genuine director was born." This was the enthusiastic appraisal of the head of the Director's Fortnight panel at Cannes last year. "We really appreciated the beauty of the shots, the elegance of the style and the extraordinary delicacy which makes the story more poignant and heart-rending.''

Set over four years in the early 50s, Spring in My Hometown tells the story of a small rural Korean village where the conflicts of war are a distant reality but where its reverberations are shown to affect the traditional lives of the villagers. Focussing on Sung Min and his best friend Chang Hee, the film follows their inquisitive daily adventures from simple events like stealing binoculars from visiting Gis to spying on sexual encounters in an abandoned mill.

All is not Huckleberry Finn country idyll however. When it becomes apparent that women are being prosti­tuted to soldiers at the nearby American base the boys are devastated. The mill mysteriously burns down with one of the lecherous troops inside and Chang Hee dis­appears.

Lee Kwang-mo's debut is a a painfully beautiful meditation on childhood and the indirect effects of war. Widescreen photography of gorgeous Korean country­side complements sensitive interpretations of events and top drawer performances by the director's young cast. A truly memorable film that has received major awards at Tokyo, Pusan, Thessaloniki and Hawaii Film Festivals.

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