Directed by Kogonada
CLOSING NIGHT FILM
Nominated for the Tiger Award at the 2017 Rotterdam International Film Festival
Sometimes the most significant relationships aren’t romantic ones — they’re the ones that hint at possibilities, but are more enamored of pulling surprises out of the mundane and everyday. Take COLUMBUS, the Film Festival’s exquisite Closing Night offering. Set in the Midwest town of Columbus, Indiana — dubiously, the hometown of current Vice President Mike Pence — the debut feature of noted visual essayist Kogonada celebrates the power of talk and space. Recent high school grad Casey (Haley Lu Richardson, THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN) aspires to study architecture and one day build distinctive, soaring edifices as the ones that dot the landscape of her hometown. In the meantime, she works as a librarian and stays at home, the better to look after her mother (Michelle Forbes), a factory worker in and out of rehab. One day, she meets Jin (John Cho), who has flown into town from Seoul to tend to his father, an architecture professor who had collapsed and is hospitalized; complicating matters, the professor’s assistant Eleanor (indie acting icon Parker Posey) is a former paramour of Jin’s. Cultural customs dictate that the eldest son stays to care for the parent until death, yet Jin avoids his filial duties as much as possible, as father and son have not been particularly close. It is up to the budding kinship between Casey and Jin to fill in the blanks in each others’ lives, to wax poetic on the stories inspired by the local architecture, and — as time goes on — to assess what is important in their respective lives.
A visual artist whose career has been built around “visual essays” for clients ranging from The Criterion Collection to the BFI, Kogonada brings his considerable gifts for juxtaposing the nature and quality of “talk” with formalistic, pastoral and meditative imagery to COLUMBUS. At times, there seems to be nothing going on in Columbus — the town and/or the movie. Yet the beauty of the film is revealed through the wry, perceptive exchanges among the small, nimble cast as they interact with the setting, intimating that there is indeed much — so much — going on with peoples’ lives. At its core, COLUMBUS is a love-letter to the vitality and necessity of a father and daughter relationship: Jin gently presses Casey to chase her dream and not confine her ambitions because of her mother, while Casey likewise prods Jin to re-dedicate himself to his estranged father. Anyone looking to cap our Festival Week tribute to actor John Cho might find his starring role here to be outside of the out-loud rom-com and action franchises that have defined his most recent career achievements. We find that this complicated, utterly human performance is exactly what exemplifies our spotlight hashtag #StarringJohnCho. The human touch — courtesy of Kogonada, an exciting, mesmerizing new voice in Asian Pacific American cinema — is timely, and the appropriate note to conclude Festival Week.
— Abraham Ferrer
Community Partners: Koreatown Youth + Community Center (KYCC)
Kogonada is a proud immigrant, born in Seoul and raised in the Midwest. He has been noted by Filmmaker magazine (25 New Faces of Independent Film) and The New Yorker for his visual work and film criticism commissioned by The Criterion Collection and Sight & Sound. He currently resides in Nashville with his wife and two sons. Columbus is his directorial feature debut.
Executive Producers: Bill Harnisch, Ruth Ann Harnisch, Max A. Butler, Mattia Bogianchino, Beatrice Camerana
Producers: Andrew Miano, Danielle Renfrew Behrens, Chris Weitz, Aaron Boyd, Giulia Caruso, Ki Jin Kim
Cinematographer: Elisha Christian
Production Designer: Diana Rice
Costume Designer: Emily Moran
Sound Editor: Andrea Gard
Sound Designer: Mac Smith
Cast: John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson, Parker Posey, Rory Culkin, Michelle Forbes
Preceded by: Columbus