Poetry, the popular Korean film from director Lee Chang-dong, and starring Yun Jung-hee as Mija, a woman in her sixties who moves gracefully through life, contemplating a trivial daily routine that is ill-suited to her refined persona, starts Friday, March 18 for a one-week engagement at the Landmark’s Edina Theater.
With warmth, elegance and a dash of eccentricity, Mija takes care of her ungrateful grandson Wook (Lee David) and makes a living by cleaning house for an elderly man who, though paralyzed by a stroke, still responds to her charm with bouts of drug-induced arousal. On a whim, Mija enrolls in a poetry class at the local cultural center and begins a personal quest to find the perfect words to describe her feelings.
However, she’s plagued by the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and struggles with new vocabulary and the challenges of the creative process. When her world is turned upside down by the discovery of a monstrous crime, it is Mija’s unique and touching poetry that allows her to continue to embrace life.
“These are times when poetry is dying away,” states Lee. “Some lament such loss and others claim, ‘Poetry deserves to die’.
“Regardless, people continue to read and write poetry,” he added. “What does it mean then to be writing poetry when prospects of an ongoing future seem dismal?”
Born in 1944, Yun Jung-Hee rose to stardom in 1967 with her debut film Sorrowful Youth; over the course of her career, she has appeared in over 300 films (including Mist (1967), Legend of Ssarigol (1968), Sim Cheong (1973), A Splendid Outgoing (1977) and Manmubang (1994)), and she was recently voted the greatest actress in Korean cinema in a public poll. Poetry is her first acting role in 16 years.
Writer/Director Lee Chang-dong was born in Daegu, South Korea, and studied Korean literature at Kyungbuk University. He began his career as a high school teacher and novelist before co-writing and working as an assistant director on Park Swang-su’s To the Starry Island (1993) and writing Park’s A Single Spark (1995).
From 2002 to 2004, he served as South Korea’s Minister of Culture and Tourism, and he currently teaches directing and screenwriting at the Korean National University of the Arts. His other feature films are Green Fish (1996), Peppermint Candy (2000), Oasis (2002) (winner of the Best Director and Best New Actress awards at the Venice International Film Festival) and Secret Sunshine (2007) (winner of the Best Actress award at the Cannes International Film Festival). www.kino.com/poetry