“Namoo,” which means “tree” in Korean, will be premiering as part of Sundance’s New Frontiers. The feature is written and directed by Erick Oh, who previously worked on “Heart” and “How to Eat Your Apple.”
The film is brought to life through virtual reality and celebrates a grandfather’s passing. It follows the journey of a budding artist — and his tree of life — from start to end.
Speaking exclusively with Variety ahead of the premiere, Oh said, “This story is deeply inspired by the loss of my grandfather a long time ago. It took me a while to finally put this together in an art piece because I wasn’t ready to share this idea with the world yet. He passed away almost 10 years ago, and it was a sudden goodbye. We weren’t really prepared for it, so we were really grieving. That experience led me to think about our life and the meaning of it, and that led me to come up with the core idea of ‘Namoo.'”
Visually, Oh says his approach was a “poetic one with minimalistic structure with lots of breathing room.” He adds, “At the same time, [it is] dense enough to carry detailed emotions and information. I invited Eusong Lee, an incredible artist as well as a very close friend of mine, to explore the art style for the film together. The most important thing was capturing certain sections and stages of life in lighting as well as the weather — sunny, sunset, night, rain, storm or snow. The lighting and weather are the statuses of the main character’s mind.”
Since “Namoo” was created as a virtual reality experience, Lee used Quill, a VR animation software developed by Oculus, to bring the story to life.
On choosing virtual reality as his format, Oh said, “VR really brings you deeper into the story. You become part of the story in a very personal level. From the first moment I decided to bring this idea out to the world, I wanted this to be a very poetic spiritual experience and VR was the perfect platform for it. I think that the strength of VR is that it encourages filmmakers to tell their stories not only cinematically but also in a more engaging and immersive way.”
Watch the trailer below.