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Dir: Lee Chang-Dong


Having spent many years of his life a novelist and screenwriter, Chang-dong Lee only began film directing after he was 40. His creative background and sound understanding of how to meaningfully tell a story makes his films some of the best to emerge from South Korea and his 2007 film Secret Sunshine in no way falls short.

When a car accident leaves Shin-ae’s (Jeon Do-yeon) husband dead, Shin-ae is left to raise their son alone. Moving to her late husband’s hometown of Miryang, she strives for a new life of peace and togetherness with her son but finds somewhat the opposite. Her struggle with loss is abruptly confronted once again when her son is abducted and Shin-ae is left in search for answers. An unexpected newfound faith in an omnipresent light seemingly has the potential to restore her strength, but does her disillusionment highlight denial? Can Shin-ae find a way of grieving that will allow her to live again?

Secret Sunshine is an intense story of tragedy, loss and faith. Chang-dong Lee applies his previous experience in theatre to Secret Sunshine by removing the boundaries of the camera and creating an intense connection between the audience and Shin-ae. Lee doesn’t visualise death through pain or violence but more so highlights Shin-ae’s impassioned emotions. Together with Lee’s bold portrayal of emotional struggle and Shin-ae’s award winning performance, the film offers an honest, realist depiction of loss and its bewildering aftermath.

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