'Hanaan'

Set among some down-and-out third-generation Korean immigrants in Uzbekistan, this bedraggled-looking but confidently helmed feature debut from Korean-Uzbek filmmaker Ruslan Pak places a familiar narrative in an unusual setting and further packs a punch thanks to a convincingly gritty lead perf.

Drugs make the world go ’round for the protag of “Hanaan,” a casual substance-abuser who became a narcotics cop before the aftermath of a major drug bust gets him down. Set among some down-and-out third-generation Korean immigrants in Uzbekistan, this bedraggled-looking but confidently helmed feature debut from Korean-Uzbek filmmaker Ruslan Pak places a familiar narrative in an unusual setting and further packs a punch thanks to a convincingly gritty lead perf. Pic’s unusual provenance will guarantee wide fest exposure.

Stas (Stanislav Tyan, determined) is a Tashkent parking-lot attendant who studies law and, with a small posse of mostly Korean friends (one of whom is played by the director), is occasionally involved in drugs and petty offences. The close links between crime and crime prevention come back to haunt Stas six years later, when he’s a cop who’s a little too successful at busting dealers, according to his corrupt superiors. Tale grows even bleaker when Stas quits and ends up a drug fiend, though there’s always hope for a glimpse of “Hanaan,” or the Promised Land. Flaky HD lensing is often shaky, stereo sound mix only so-so.

Hanaan

South Korea-Uzbekistan

Production

A Zamie Pictures presentation of a Zamie Pictures, Flying Tiger Pictures production. (International sales: M-Line Distribution, Seoul.) Produced by Ellen Y.D. Kim. Executive producers, E.K. Heo, Kim. Directed, written by Ruslan Pak.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Tae-sik Um; editors, Pak, Lee Se-hoon; music, Park Hyu-min, Jun-Ja-Yang. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (Filmmakers of the Present), Aug. 4, 2011. (In Toronto Film Festival -- Discovery.) Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Stanislav Tyan, Bahodir Musaev, Ilbek Faiziev, Dmitry Eum, Ruslan Pak. (Russian, Uzbek, Korean dialogue)

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