MONDAY, MAY 3 | IN THE MATTER OF CHA JUNG HEE | 7:00 PM | DWNTN
|IN THE MATTER OF CHA JUNG HEE
DATE: MONDAY, MAY 3
TIME: 7:00 PM
IN THE MATTER OF CHA JUNG HEE
(United States, 2010) Dir./Wtr.: Deann Borshay Liem
Video, 60 min., color, documentary, in English and Korean w/ E.S.
After her intriguing and by now canonical FIRST PERSON PLURAL (Festival 2000), Deann Borshay Liem embarks on another moving journey to the personal past. IN THE MATTER OF CHA JUNG HEE traces the story of a private self-discovery and the universal question of who we are. The documentary can be understood as a sequel to FIRST PERSON PLURAL, in which Borshay Liem set out to find her Korean family that gave her away for adoption. However, the film is no less a discrete art work of its own. This time, the filmmaker returns to Korea to search for Cha Jung Hee, the girl under whose name Borshay Liem arrived in the U.S. in 1966.
Apparently, Cha Jung Hee was another orphan girl, the one originally chosen by the Borshays overseas, who then mysteriously disappeared. Taking on her name, her shoes and her identity as the starting point for her new life in America, Borshay Liem begins an obsessive quest for this ‘other girl’. And the search for her becomes the search for her own displaced self. For who can one be — when facing at once the impossibility of a past as much as the impossibility to be without it? What does it mean to carry a name not one’s own — can a name ever be ‘one’s own’? And how does one identify with an origin and a history that haunt but do not belong to oneself? A strength of the film is that it does not limit these questions to the single fate of the director but rather reflects them as the basic human need to know (about) ourselves.
To reappropriate her identity however, Borshay Liem has to undertake a very arduous journey. Going to local authorities is as much a part of this as the mass media to reach out to the Korean public or calling the 101 Cha Jung Hees registered in the telephone book. But what is marked by denials, disappointment, painful tears, and not least moments of absurd discoveries, becomes a chance for the filmmaker to meet a handful of strong women with whom she immediately connects. For it is their personal histories and lives that provide Borshay Liem with a sense of identification and ultimately give her access to the impossible motherland.
— Feng-Mei Heberer
This screening will be preceded by select excerpts of MEMORIES OF A FORGOTTEN WAR, Borshay Liem’s latest documentary feature project.
COMMUNITY CO-PRESENTERS: Association of Korean Adoptees (Southern California); IDA