Banel & Adama by Billie Anderson

In a cinematic era dominated by narratives celebrating empowered women directed by women, with recent releases like Barbie (dir. Greta Gerwig), Bottoms (dir. Emma Seligman), Saint Omer (dir. Alice Diop), and Joy Ride (dir. Adele Lim), Banel & Adama offers a profound exploration of womanhood in a rural Senegalese village where the line between reality and folklore blurs. At its … Read More

Banel & Adama by Santasil Mallik

Ramata-Toulaye Sy’s debut feature, Banel & Adama, is an acutely measured film that concocts a fable-like story around the passionate liaison between its eponymous protagonists. It begins with an almost idyllic state of things, casting the lovers in the halcyon of unwavering affection. Outside the precincts of a Senegalese village, they hope to live together in a forsaken house buried … Read More

Smugglers by Busra Copuroglu

Set in the 1970s South Korea when it was closed to the outside world, Ryoo Seung-wan’s Smugglers revolves around a group of women free divers –haenyo- who retrieve the loot from the deepest, darkest corners of the sea for a smuggling operation run by men in a small sea village of Guncheon. As a nearby chemical factory threatens the livelihoods … Read More

“Smugglers”: An Entertaining Yet Shallow Dive by Eduard Sviridenko

In the vibrant landscape of Ryoo Seung-wan’s “Smugglers,” we’re introduced to a tempting array of ideas. At its core, the film is an ambitious blend of comedy, action, and drama which, while engaging, sometimes balances on the edge of losing its identity amid its attempt to encompass all genres.  The cinematography offers an evident playfulness. The vivid use of bright … Read More

Smugglers by Revna Altiok

Seung-wan Ryoo’s “Smugglers”, originally intended to be an aquatic crime thriller, explores the intricacies of female friendship. While initially flirting with stereotypical character tropes for its female leads – the more traditionally masculine, honest, and honorable Jin-sook; the strong but selfish and mischievous femme-fatale-esque Chun-ja; and Ok-bun, a not-very-bright tea-shop owner who wields her femininity as a weapon – the … Read More

Smugglers by Santasil Mallik

Ryoo Seung-wan’s comic-action flick Smugglers offers a cinematic salutation to the indomitable spirit of haenyeo – a dying, semi-matriarchal commune of female divers from the South Korean district of Jeju whose livelihood constitutes harvesting molluscs and seaweed from the ocean. The film tells the story of six divers set in the middle of a nationwide smuggling racket during the country’s … Read More

“The Breaking Ice”: Timeless Pursuit of Freedom by Eduard Sviridenko

While “The Breaking Ice” paints a picture of cold landscapes, it radiates surprising warmth, underscored by the beautifully executed cinematography and montage. The movie deliberately contrasts these snowy images with its characters’ intense and emotional journeys. Indeed, the wide shots of the icy scenes are mixed with intimate close-ups, capturing the expansive yet personal feel of the narrative.  The individual … Read More

The Breaking Ice by Billie Anderson

Loneliness is a prison that we all yearn to escape—or accept. The Breaking Ice asks the question: how do you find yourself after life leaves you behind? What if your dreams fail you? Maybe you find all the success you desire, and it’s still not enough, what then?   The Breaking Ice follows three emotionally and psychologically lost twenty-somethings in Yanji, … Read More

The Breaking Ice Review: A Touch of Frost, An Ode to Lost Youth by Gigi Wong

Weather is always emotional and sensual. In The Breaking Ice, weather becomes an integral part of the film’s narrative. Set in a small Chinese border city of Yanji, the film’s snow-covered cityscape and icy surroundings function as a chilling metaphor for loneliness and alienation. The bleak, white landscape of Yanji brings to screen the anxiety and emotional exhaustion that young … Read More

The Breaking Ice by Revna Altiok

Anthony Chen’s The Breaking Ice introduces a visually captivating yet imperfect journey through the states of matter – ice, water, and steam. The film extends an invitation for reflection on the nature of human existence through the intimacy shared by its main characters: Haofeng, Nana and Xiao.  Haofeng, a young man embodying the rigors of traditional Asian upbringing, mirrors a … Read More