Fearful Symmetry: The Films of Lee Changdong
Screening Dates
  • June 10, 2023 8:20
  • June 20, 2023 7:00

“[Jeon’s] performance is, in my mind, the best performance I’ve ever seen in any movie … The filmmaking never turns away from the emotional hurricane of its lead, and I think that’s a really brave choice to make—and a hard one to make.”

Sarah Polley

Lee Changdong’s stature grew to new international heights with Secret Sunshine, winning Jeon Doyeon Best Actress recognition at Cannes and attracting a near-sensational reputation. Its release in South Korea prompted both recommendations and disavowals from evangelical pastors, but Lee’s return to filmmaking after a brief period as South Korea’s Minister of Culture is no work of didacticism. Instead, the trials of Shinae, a single mother who moves to her recently deceased husband’s hometown, are a new configuration of Lee’s interest in melodrama—not for nothing does our heroine describe the experience of her growing involvement in charismatic faith like being in love.” Secret Sunshines sudden swings in tone from small-town routine to life-shattering tragedy sent some reviewers reaching for the Book of Job as a comparison. What’s striking and most effective about Lee’s film is the way it totally externalizes an emotional life through concrete chains of action and reaction. Song Kangho’s performance as a self-interested foil is another grounding element in this existential odyssey.

In Korean with English subtitles

Lee enters his character’s world with unsparing vehemence … Bresson and Buñuel would likely both have admired the extraordinary achievement.”

Tony Rayns, VIFF

The best film I have ever seen about grieving and forgiveness.”

Amy Seimetz, director (She Dies Tomorrow, Sun Don’t Shine)
Co-presented with the Korean Film Festival Canada

Secret Sunshine screens from Criterion’s 2011 Blu-ray release, supervised and approved by Lee Changdong and cinematographer Cho Yongkyu