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First Night

A heartfelt exploration of the immigrant experience.
5/5

Review

Haneol (John) Lee’s poignant short film is a stirring exploration of the immigrant experience, brought to life through the trials and tribulations of a Korean family in the United States. The film stars So Yeon Kim and Chris S Ahn as the earnest parents, with Leo K Ahn as their son. The narrative opens with a scene that is as simple as it is telling: the couple struggles with a satnav, highlighting the everyday challenges faced by newcomers in a foreign land.

Once they reach their destination – a local cafe – the father’s frustration mounts. There’s no menu, and the server, played by Chris Moyse, offers limited assistance. This scenario is not only relatable but also heart-wrenching. It’s in these raw, authentic moments that the film’s essence truly shines. The father’s face, etched with regret and fear, conveys the emotional weight of his struggle to provide for his family in an unfamiliar world.

What stands out in Lee’s storytelling is the underlying theme of resilience. The family’s journey is a credit to the courage it takes to dive into the deep end, to learn and adapt in a new environment. The performances by Kim and Ahn are sincere and moving, capturing the nuanced reality of their characters’ plight. The strong script is elevated by Tanner Grandstaff’s cinematography, which uses framing and lighting to create a intimate experience – as most of the film is set in a car . Grayson Proctor’s music perfectly complements the tone, enhancing the film’s emotional depth.

This beautifully crafted short film is a dedication to Lee’s parents, offering a heartfelt and melancholic reflection on the immigrant experience. Lee has created a film that is deeply personal to him, resonating with authenticity and sincerity. Highly recommended.

First Night Short Film

Specifications

Runtime: 12 min
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