Festival gem: Going South + Suddenly, Last Summer

A double-bill from Leesong Hee-il – a strange and melancholic road movie, and the conclusion of the director’s new trilogy on male desire.

Alex Davidson
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Going South (2012)

Going South (2012)

What’s it about?

In Going South, a junior recruit planning to terminate his military service is driven back to camp by another man. The former drugs his companion and heads south. Slowly the relationship the two men have with each other is revealed.

Suddenly, Last Summer follows a teacher who is desperately trying to resist the advances of a persistent male student.

Suddenly, Last Summer (2012)

Suddenly, Last Summer (2012)

Who made it?

Leesong Hee-il, one of the eminent Korean directors of gay cinema. No Regret (2006), his best known film, follows a young man who moves to Seoul and ends up working in a host bar (in the film, a glorified brothel). It caused a degree of furore in South Korea for the scenes of gay sex and male nudity.

White Night (2012), which screened earlier at this year’s Festival, is an achingly beautiful and melancholic tale of a one night stand between a courier and a man looking to find closure on a trauma from his past.

Going South (2012)

Going South (2012)

What’s special about the films?

Despite his pedigree, the films of Leesong Hee-il still haven’t received the attention they deserve. From his debut to his last three films released in 2012, he has proved to be a new and intriguing voice in queer cinema. Connections can be made with the work of Wong Kar-wai (the swooning visuals) and Apichatpong Weerasethakul (the showing-not-telling depiction of human relationships), but his style is his own.

This new double-bill of short features – Going South and Suddenly Last Summer are 45 and 37 minutes long respectively – offers two very different depictions of male desire, both of them taboo, owing to professional duty and, in the latter case, age difference. These films offer a unique and compelling portrait of gay life that may be unfamiliar to western audiences.

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