Berlinale: Programme


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Endstation der Sehnsüchte

Home From Home

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HOME FROM HOME

Three women in search of a home return to South Korea – after an absence of more than thirty years. In the 1970s they left everything behind – including their children – in order to go to Germany as ‘guest workers’. Although now perfectly assimilated in their new country, they nonetheless long for the old one. Now at last they are able to realise their dream of returning with their German husbands to Dogil Maeul, the ‘German village’ that has been erected for people like them. Young-Sook, Chun-Ja and Woo-Za – all now well-heeled pensioners – have come back. Their presence is a big tourist attraction. Situated in a picturesque bay, this village with its red-tiled roofs and its exceptionally neat front gardens is indeed more German than Germany – there’s even wholemeal bread and large Frankfurter sausages. This, then, is the new-old home to which their sixtysomething husbands Armin, Willi and Ludwig have come in the hope of spending their remaining years here in contemplative calm. And yet there’s still something missing, say the women. “Come evening, when the sun goes down, you feel homesick – regardless of whether you’re 40, 50 or 60.” That’s how it was in Germany, where they spent half their lives and where they still feel like strangers, and that’s the way it is now in South Korea, where they discover that it’s not so easy to just pick up where they left off. And so, there they sit, in traditional Korean dress, in their living rooms full of German oak wall units. Director Sung-Hyung Cho’s own biography makes her more than familiar with her protagonist’s cultural balancing act. Her humorous, sensitive observation of these three couples is an ambivalent exploration of the meaning of ‘home’ – and whether it is possible to find such a place.

Germany 2009, 97 min

by

Sung-Hyung Cho