Fervently embracing the concept of music as a universal language, “Intangible Asset No. 82” casts a respectful eye on the efforts of Australian jazz drummer Simon Barker to gain an audience with the legendary Kim Seok-chul, an aged Korean shaman whose intricate, improvised drumming has inspired and challenged him. Set for midyear theatrical release prior to homevid rollout, this intriguing debut feature by budding documaker Emma Franz — an Aussie singer who has recorded with Baker and others — may find a receptive niche aud through cross-promotion with a soundtrack CD.
Doc joins Baker during the latest of many visits to Seoul. Repeatedly informed that an outsider has little chance of meeting a revered shaman — especially one officially designated by the South Korean government as an “intangible asset” — Baker gradually gains the trust of Kim Dong-won, a respected music teacher who takes the Aussie on a guided tour through Korean musical culture. Highlights include a seriocomic encounter with Bae Il-dong, a robust pansori master whose song-stories can last for hours. Less dialogue and more music would improve the docu. Still, the climactic meeting with visibly frail Kim Seok-Chul is genuinely affecting.