House of Hummingbird

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South Korea | 2018 | 138 minutes | Bora Kim

Think Eighth Grade in South Korea: Reticent 14-year-old Eun-hee struggles with social pressure, her nascent sexuality, and her indifferent family during the summer of 1994 (equally tumultuous for her country), until a sympathetic teacher helps her navigate it all.

"Director Kim Bora's debut feature is sensitive, keenly observed and unflinchingly honest"—The Hollywood Reporter

House of Hummingbird follows 14-year-old Eun-hee as she wanders Seoul and navigates a turbulent year of middle school. (Think Eighth Grade in South Korea.) Eager for validation and direction, Eun-hee—the titular hummingbird—exists in a web of dysfunction; she's caught between a strict father and exhausted mother, a rebellious sister, and a hardworking, though often violent, eldest brother; her classmates vote Eun-hee the top "delinquent" in a class poll, and, often, she does not meet familial expectations; she experiments with love, seeking connection and—ultimately—meaning. Who is Eun-hee? Who should she be? Director Kim Bora's first feature film sets its sights beyond adolescent anxieties and the awkwardness of middle-school romance, existing more as a tender, meditative study on personhood and alienation, asking us to join Eun-hee in carefully observing and making sense of a transient and inscrutable world where friendships sour and love fades. Here, Kim embraces silence and illuminates the uncomfortable (and revealing) spaces between words, with a minimalistic, ambient score. The performances are interior—we must examine the subtleties of face and posture—and the camera dwells on fluttering leaves, the shard from a broken lamp. Kim offers no easy answers, only an intimate window into the profoundly beautiful, mysterious, tragic world Eun-hee inhabits.

Director Biography
South Korean film director Bora Kim is a Columbia MFA graduate. Her short film The Recorder Exam received a Woodstock Jury Award for Best Student Short as well as the Director's Guild of America's Best Woman Student Film Award. As screenings were met with positive audience reaction, certain viewers inquired about the continued life of protagonist Eun-Hee, which inspired Kim's first feature, House of Hummingbird.

Sponsored by Brettler Family Foundation, East Asia Center at UW

  • Original Language Title: Beol-sae
  • Director: Bora Kim
  • Principal Cast: Park Ji-hu, Kim Sae-byuk, Lee Seung-yeon, Jeong In-gi
  • Country: South Korea, USA
  • Year: 2018
  • Running Time: 138 minutes
  • Producer: Zoe Sua Cho, Bora Kim
  • Screenplay: Bora Kim
  • Cinematographers: Kang Gook-hyun
  • Editors: Zoe Sua Cho
  • Music: Matija Strniša
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Awards: Berlin International Film Festival 2019 (Grand Prix Generation 14Plus); Busan International Film Festival 2018 (KNN Award, NEPAC Award); Istanbul Film Festival 2019 (Grand Jury Prize); Tribeca Film Festival 2019 (Best International Narrative Feature Award, Best Actress in an International Narrative Feature Film Award for Ji-hu Park, Best Cinematography Award for Kang Gook-hyun)
  • Filmography: Debut Feature Film
  • Language: Korean
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • Format: DCP
  • US Distributor: Well Go USA
  • International Sales: Contents Panda