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“[FILM REVIEW] KOFFIA 2015 – Clearer Than You Think (2014)”

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Melbourne, 6 September – Day 4 of the 6th Korean Film Festival in Australia kicked off with ‘Clearer Than You Think‘, an omnibus of shorts by director Han Ji-won. It stands out among the strong 20-film lineup as the only animated feature, and draws on Han’s personal experiences to depict real-life concerns in a humorous, yet bittersweet way.

Lucky Me (럭키 미)

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The protagonist of the first story is final-year animation student, Doo-sik. Doo-sik is unsure of what path to take after graduation, and is anxious about landing a steady job he likes. One day, he chances upon the ‘most beautiful girl’ he has ever seen – Soon-yi, who moonlights as rising model ‘Titi’. However, disaster strikes when Soon-yi becomes disillusioned with something he says. Meanwhile, his sister finds out that he had applied to graduate school behind her back and lashes out at him for being selfish, considering the poor financial situation of their family. Doo-sik is at a loss – should he go ahead with grad school, and how can he appease Soon-yi?

Say You Love Me (사랑한다 말해)

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Eun-sol is an office worker who is in a relationship with her boss, Director Kim. They put on a convincing facade at work, but meet up secretly after hours. Eun-sol grows increasingly impatient with Director Kim, as she is tired of the secrecy and uncertainty of their relationship. Furthermore, she faces immense pressure from the people around her to find a husband and settle down. Eun-sol is determined to hear the words ‘I love you’ from Director Kim, and sets out to make it happen at all costs.

Kopi Luwak (카피루왁)

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Ye-mi is a schoolgirl who is convinced that ‘rock music is [her] destiny’. She is part of a KISS tribute band, and is furious when one of their members, Kang-bo, quits. He tells her that he needs to focus on the upcoming college entrance exams, so he can go to university, and receive the qualifications to hold down a proper job in the future. This would enable him to sit in posh cafes whenever he liked, sipping expensive cups of specialty ‘Indonesian musk cat coffee – Kopi Luwak’. Ye-mi is scornful of this, firm in her views that she would never stop playing rock music as long as she enjoys it. An unexpected incident occurs, and Ye-mi is forced to re-evaluate her ideals in life.

On The Way To School (학교 가는 길)

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Adorable, inquisitive poodle Maro follows his owner out of the house one day, but is accidentally left stranded after losing her. He goes on a discovery of the world beyond his neighbourhood and sets foot in a vast forest for the first time. Soon, however, he loses his way and crosses paths with an injured crow. As night falls, Maro begins a dangerous, relentless pursuit of a way back home.

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Clearer Than You Think‘ explores the many crossroads one encounters at different moments in life through the amazingly diverse collection of characters. ‘Lucky Me’ gives us a glimpse into the lives of typical young adults – with our worries for the future after school, as well as experiencing the wonderful and crazy feeling of falling in love. ‘Say You Love Me’ and the poignant ‘Kopi Luwak’ would certainly touch on familiar territory for many – familial and societal attitudes that seem to dictate how one should live his or her life. ‘On The Way To School’ takes a lighthearted look at freedom through Maro’s venture into the outside world for the first time.

The beautiful graphics – anime-influenced characters in settings resembling glorious watercolor paintings – and instrumental, ambient background music made watching the movie a truly stunning visual and auditory experience. After the film ended, I left the cinema in an unexpectedly reflective mood. As the saying goes, a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. We are constantly faced with obstacles and forced to make difficult decisions that alter the course of our lives, and it is through overcoming these hardships and challenges that we are able to build character and get a more accurate perception of the best person you can be.

Runtime: 77 minutes

For the full screening schedule and ticketing information, visit www.koffia.com.au!

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