The poor dad, the documentarist, and that bastard

It’s hard to film poverty, it’s even harder to film his own poverty. It’s even even harder, I guess, to film the poverty of your father. Not easy to film politics too, and any kind of belief in general, because that lies in people’s heart and sometimes in their secrets. A korean documentary filmmaker, 손경화 Son Kyung-hwa, has achieved all theses challenges in « The Day that Bastard Became President 그 자식이 대통령 되던 날« , which is not only a wonderful funny title, but also one of the best Korean documentary of these days, seen at the Women Film Festival in Seoul.

The filmmaker, a woman from the very provincial and conservative area of Daegu, has filmed her father, poor and hard-worker farmer turned into handyman for his wife’s noodles shop, who votes for the Korean conservative party, the one the actual president, Lee Myung-back. Whereas the filmmaker, as many cinema people or young progressives, votes for 진보신당 (NPP), recently appeared left-wing party. She’s among the ones that conservatives call easily « communists », if not « traitors » when they have nothing to argue. Even if the father has some typical ridiculous sayings like that, he also tries to have a point for his side when he speaks about micro-credit policies for small shops like his. But the daughter replies with stories of department stores buildings that kills small stores, kind of policy that Lee Myung-back heavily supports (of course, he was an executive in Hyundai constructions…).

Why poors keep being poor while richs get richer, and why poor nice guys votes for the rich bastards (whose one become president, then)

What is stunning in the film is not only how far Son Kyung-hwa goes deep into the subject, until the core of Korean main problems, such as the disastrous power of christian religion that pours heads of huge lies. The filmmaking clearly stands out. It lies in a myriad of details which make huge differences, starting from a very surprising first shot. Son Kyung-hwa films walls, fabrics, daily-use objects (such as a nail cutter), or a cat, twice, and all of this makes great sense. It’s everyday people’s world. There is also a delightful animation about world’s global economics. Oh, and the cat? It seems to watch all of us and not understand why poors keep being poor while richs get richer, and why poor nice guys votes for the rich bastards (whose one become president, then).

Some of the shots are heartbreaking, such as the long interviews of the father telling the days when he was starving to hell, or pure genius of life taken as it is. Take this fabulous statement of the father, who doesn’t know what is to be a filmmaker : « you could open a wedding shop. Because you know how to film weddings, right? You could earn your life like that. » We laugh, but along with the director and daughter, we understand, and don’t blame : that’s a poor people’s thought, and a nice thought for a poor world. I heard this kind of saying so many times.

Now the filmmaker has been screened in a festival, and she invited her father and all family, and he answered questions as well as an actor. And surely understood more about the work of her daughter, even if he didn’t seem to change his mind about political beliefs.


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