Back in 2011, the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam gave us the wonderful Planet of Snail. This month, another Amsterdam film festival, CinemAsia, will be screening a new Korean documentary – Captain Kang, which premiered at Busan 2012.
Captain Kang (강선장)
Director: Won Ho-yeon (원호연)
South Korea, 2012, HDcam, 75′
Sunday 7 April, 13.20
This film is about a disabled fisherman, Kang, who lost his legs in an accident but never stopped going out to sea, and the precarious family relations that resulted from Kang’s decision. For 20 years since the accident, Kang’s family was his strength, the foundation of his survival, but Kang is also consumed with guilt over what the family had to sacrifice for him, above all the son who gave up a dream of becoming a baseball player to help his father. Using Chuang Tzu’s famous butterfly dream as a motif, the film mingles the images of unblinking reality with ideal dreamlike images. Like Chuang Tzu happily hovering around in his dreams, Kang–missing the old times before the accident–and his son–missing his childhood spent fantasizing of a career in baseball–both want to avoid waking up from their dreams. To them, reality is rather a nightmare best left unacknowledged. As such, the family portrait from the past shown at the end of the film is even more weighted down with heartbreak.
What makes this documentary so wonderful are the people. Captain Kang and his small fishing crew enjoy teasing each other but with age catching up with them they begin to consider their futures with more trepidation as the work of fishing begins to wear on their bodies. This is truly a story about regrets, drawing strength from family and lamenting a son’s lost dreams.