Review: ‘Sona, the Other Myself’

Japanese-born Korean Yang Yonghi's "Sona, the Other Myself" continues the theme of a family bounced around by history and politics.

Partly overlapping with her 2006 docu “Dear Pyongyang” but movingly focusing this time on her niece there, Japanese-born Korean Yang Yonghi’s “Sona, the Other Myself” continues the theme of a family bounced around by history and politics. Though the theme isn’t original, Yang brings a measured approach to a very personal subject that pays emotional dividends, avoiding the usual cliches in its portrait of everyday North Korean life and letting the facts speak for themselves. Educational channels are natural outlets.

Pic uses footage shot in Pyongyang for the previous film (which got her banned from visiting North Korea), plus extra material lensed in Pyongyang in 2005 and Japan during 2005-08. While recapping her family’s history — parents originally from North Korea, but their three sons sent back to Pyongyang to study and live — the film shows Yang’s niece Sona (more correctly, Seon-hwa) growing up from a bright moppet into a curious teenager. Meanwhile, in Osaka, Yang’s parents remain committed to their homeland while also hoping for a united peninsula. DV tech credits are basic but OK. Berlin fest version has much less music than that preemed at Pusan.

Sona, the Other Myself

Docu -- South Korea-Japan

Production

A Zio Entertainment (South Korea)/Wahaha Honpo (Japan) production. (International sales: Zio, Seoul.) Produced by Kim Jong-geon. Executive producer, Choi Hyeon-muk. Directed, written by Yang Yonghi.

Crew

Camera (color, DigiBeta), Yang; editor, Jang Jin; music, Marco. Reviewed at Arsenal 1, Berlin, Jan. 28, 2010. (In Berlin Film Festival -- Forum; 2009 Pusan Film Festival -- Wide Angle.) Original Korean title: Seon-hwa, ddo hanaeui na. Original Japanese title: Sona, mo hitori no watashi. Korean, Japanese dialogue. Running time: 81 MIN. Narrator: Yang Yonghi.

With

Yang Sona, Yang Geon-hwa, Yang Geon-seon, Gang Jeong-heui, Hye Gyeong.

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