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Where EAST meets the Northwest

FAMILY BONDS. Treeless Mountain, a drama about two young sisters forced to live on their grandparentsí farm in their motherís absence, opens at Portlandís Hollywood Theatre June 19. (Photo courtesy of Oscilloscope Pictures)

From The Asian Reporter, V19, #23 (June 16, 2009), page 11.

Little kids and the big picture

Treeless Mountain

Written and directed by So Yong Kim

Produced by Bradley Rust Gray, Ben Howe, Lars Knudsen, Jay Van Hoy, and So Yong Kim

Distributed by Oscilloscope Pictures

By Ronault L.S. Catalani

Thereís quiet magic in So Yong Kimís feature film Treeless Mountain. Of course itís in the subtlety of her child actors, in their longing eyes, their spontaneous giggling and sincere sighs. But more to the point, itís primarily in what the director has asked big sister Hee Yeon Kim and baby sis Song Hee Kim to do on camera. The magicís in the story.

In Treeless Mountain, Ms. Kim manages the same enchantment pencilled masterfully for nearly 50 years by cartoonist and social commentator Charles Schulz in newspapers of 75 countries. Like Charlie Brown and Lucyís world, Ms. Kimís kidsí bright mornings and achy evenings are only occasionally and critically peopled by grownups. And then only by those parts of adult bodies or portions of parental speech that fit inside picture-space centered on the child protagonistsí wishes and worries.

This is not to say Treeless Mountain is a child-centered story. Not at all. As with all life on our wobbly world, some very adult situations kick these kidsí universe into motion, then put the brakes on all that momentum, or just as suddenly turn their little lives left or right in ways kids are always, everywhere, doing their childish best to understand. To accommodate too.

Cinematographer Anne Misawaís long and loving moments have to be credited for this, for patiently capturing a childís reflection, a kidís magical thinking and utter practicality.

In the end, the joy of Treeless Mountain is not only Ms. Misawa and director Kimís long looks around a childís small world that would make the journey claustrophobic. There are grand metaphors ó again, delivered unhurriedly ó in the rhythm of seasons. Disclosing in due time. Among them: How the girlsí lives get richer as they devolve from big city to small town to bumpkin village; when the sisters start laughing and why mirth has a chance to take root; where are mountains treeless and where are mountains lush.

Treeless Mountain opens Friday, June 19 at the Hollywood Theatre, located at 4122 N.E. Sandy Boulevard in Portland. For complete dates and showtimes, call (503) 281-4215 or visit <www.hollywoodtheatre.org>. To learn more about the film, visit <www.soandbrad.com>.