Fearful Symmetry: The Films of Lee Changdong
Screening Dates
  • June 23, 2023 7:00
  • June 25, 2023 6:00
  • June 26, 2023 7:00
New Restoration

Spectacular … By the end of [Poetry], Mija’s circumstances have profoundly changed, even as, outwardly, she appears unaltered … It’s a wonder to watch the story shift with each elegantly imparted revelation.”

Keith Uhlich, Time Out

For his fifth film, Lee Changdong sought the inimitable talent of the great Yoon Jeonghee, the studio star of almost three hundred films. Retired since 1994, Yoon returned to the spotlight to play the role of Mija, a retired widow caring for her teenage grandson in a small town. Through her enrollment in a community poetry class and investigation into her grandson’s connection to a local crime, Mija plunges into the past. As in Secret Sunshine, this is a past to which we are mostly denied direct access; however Mija, fully committed to comprehending the way her life intersects with acts of creation and destruction, is a new kind of protagonist in Lee’s cinema: the refiner of judgments in the face of a bleak universe. Cannes awarded Lee for his screenplay, but the film is unthinkable without Yoon, who passed away earlier this year. Her performance is one we can praise unreservedly.

In Korean with English subtitles

I have seen Poetry twice—once at the 2010 New York Film Festival, where everyone seemed to think it the finest selection on the slate, and once as I prepared to give the film the lengthier consideration it demands … Nothing much changed between those two viewings, except that my admiration for Yoon Jeonghee as Mija deepened into awe.”

Stuart Klawans, The Nation

Like the protagonist at the end of Abbas Kiarostami’s Taste of Cherry, Lee turns away from a mortal death and towards a new and infinite timeline brought forth by art.”

Kelley Dong, Reverse Shot

“[In Poetry,] a schoolgirl jumps to her death from a bridge, and Mija decides to take a poetry class at an adult-education center … What one event has to do with the other is the movie’s spiritual epiphany.”

Wesley Morris, The Boston Globe
Co-presented with the Korean Film Festival Canada