Treeless Mountain

Evoked by early childhood memories, the story of a precocious journey to maturity comes into focus with exquisite simplicity in So Yong Kim’s gentle masterpiece, Treeless Mountain. An observational portrait of a young girl coming to terms with loss and abandonment, Treeless Mountain is made of the same substance as cinema-vérité, but it is woven in a dreamlike quality, making it seem like a horrific fairy tale that is at the same time painfully realistic. Six-year-old Jin (Hee Yeon Kim) and her younger sister Bin (Song Hee Kim) live on the edge of disaster, but they are not aware of it. In the small apartment where they reside with their single mother, the menacing sounds of the outer world, disturb their precarious cocoon. One day (ominously foreshadowed by Jin wetting the bed), their mother packs all their belongings. For Jin, the days of going to school are over. Mommy is gone, leaving her and Bin in a hostile home with their alcoholic Big Aunt (Mi Hyang Kim) and a piggy bank to slowly fill with tinkling coins and shining hopes. Once the bank is full, their mother will be back. [Synopsis courtesy of the Toronto International Film Festival]