Running Time: 20 mins.
Release Date: 2018
Director: Yoshimasa Jimbo
Writer: Yoshimasa Jimbo (Screenplay),
Starring: Heo Rynn, Heo Min-kyung, Lee Yoon-sun, Lee Hae-soon,
The South Korean city of Busan is most famous as a hotbed of cinema and politics and one of the many projects it hosts is a three-week film-making residency that allows directors to make a short film with a Korean cast and staff which will then be screened at the UNESCO sponsored Busan Inter-City Film Festival. Taking part in last year’s residency was Jimbo Yoshimasa whose high-quality work, “Here and Here” turns the camera on the city and its residents in a drama about a pregnant woman confronting her fears about giving birth.
Taking place over the course of one day, we follow Mina, a writer for B.Cent magazine. Despite being seven-months pregnant, she is roaming the city of Busan for an article about people’s first memories. She is collecting them through a series of interviews she records and plays back over the film. Old men and young girls, whoever catches her attention gets questioned and their answers provide something of a soundtrack. Behind her smiles, she is anxious about what giving birth feels like as is revealed through an underlying subtext of her fears that emerges during her interviews and phone conversations with someone from her personal life who is off-screen.
From morning to evening, we follow Mina around the city of Busan and director Yoshimasa Jimbo allows us to experience different aspects of the city, riding subways from down-town markets to cinemas, Jangsan Temple, a place of peace and quiet, and a busy park. Yoshimasa uses a handheld camera to catch Mina on the move, a bundle of energy with a purpose and, like many modern people, she works while on the go, so we get a succinct tour of the city while observing her listening to her interviews and writing notes during her commute. Sound design reflects the changes in location and work style, becoming tinnier when Mina listens to things on earphones, accompanied by ambient noise when talking face-to-face, and delivered at a higher volume when in an intimate conversation. People being interviewed are shot from behind so that we always see Mina’s face as she occupies the left corner of the screen. We see her reactions to their comments and it is interesting to watch the subtle shifting of emotions as people touch on issues personal to her. The story progresses until she is the centre of the picture and ultimately taken out of it when it comes time to delve into her own past much like the people who will go into her article. Her voice becomes the dominant feature and it works as we observe the city on screen.
Shot with a feeling immediacy, the settings are full of real people. Families, singletons, the young and the elderly, an empty baby carriage, even a family of ducks strutting around, everything gives a sense of life flowing through the locations. When coupled with Mina’s story and her narration, the images take on some symbolic meaning so it isn’t necessary for her to be on screen the entire time. The emotion in Mina’s voice is powerful, especially when the cracks appear and she speaks openly about her pregnancy. It culminates in a final sequence which shows minor miracles can happen in everyday surroundings with ordinary people, but then, there are no such things as ordinary people. Everyone, everywhere and everything is special in some way. Busan looks special.
So many short films like to burrow down into an individual but this one does that and maintains its connections with the universal whole. Our focus is one woman but the life around her fills the frame as well and we see a celebration of Busan and those who call it home. What unfolds over the 20 minutes of the film is a beautiful, graceful intimate look at fear and hope of one individual and the symbiotic relationship of people who live in Busan, something anyone living in a community will be able to appreciate.
Also, that music played on the end credits is awesome!!!