Saturday, March 21, 2009

Intangible Asset No. 82

Apparently, I'm the only one (of the select students i asked) who saw this film.
Fine. But you're missing out.

In her debt film, singer/director Emma Franz follows famous Australian drummer Simon Barker to Korea to find the country's "Intangible Asset No. 82", a geriatric shaman who was bestowed the title by his government as a recognition of his mastery of the art of improvisation on a sort of two sided drum. Barker's search for the Asset, Kim Seok-Chul, has been seven years in the making. Not only is the great shaman intangible, he's wily too and tends to be hard to find. Barker, with Franz in tow, meets up with another Korean musician who knows how to find Seok-Chul. The film is spent chronicling the journey of Barker and the Korean to different master musicians and finally, Seok-Chul himself. 

Franz does an incredible job. Her lighting (mostly natural) is beautiful and her images are powerful. She is able to capture a singer perched on a waterfall and a private shamanic ceremony, both difficult circumstances under which to film, and disappears into both scenes easily so that the audience feels like its participating in the action. The film is very musically based so there are many shots of Barker and many others playing the drums, of singing, of chanting, etc. She puts strong emphasis on music as the universal language and lets the musicians and artist featured in her film exemplify her point. Barker's evolution as a drummer is apparent in the progression the of story and his wide-eyed appreciation of all things Korean endears the audience to him and his personal journey almost immediately. 

I felt like the editing created a nice pace throughout the film, but the whole shebang itself was a little long. But she was quite long winded on her answers during the Q&A, so lengthiness seems to be a preference for her. The story itself never loses traction because all of the characters are so charismatic and open. I found myself totally captivated by Barker's journey and Franz's strong imagery. Her debut film is very impressive, and coming out on dvd! 

here's the link to the trailer

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