In the 1990s, a young widow named So-young (Choi Seung-yoon) moves from South Korea to Canada with her young son, Dong-hyun (Dohyun Noel Hwang). Neither of them speaks English very well, or understands the cultures of their new home. But this is where they live now, where Dong-hyun will grow up, and they’ll make the best of it.
On paper, Riceboy Sleeps is a familiar semiautobiographical drama, the story of a smart kid trying to navigate new surroundings. But Vancouver director Anthony Shim distinguishes himself as a storyteller of piercing honesty and remarkable specificity, unpacking the lives of So-young and Dong-hyun over a decade of change and adaptation. (Dong-hyun is played as a teen by Ethan Hwang.)
Mother and son both experience different levels of casual racism at work and school, make unexpected alliances with co-workers and classmates, and slowly grow apart as they define themselves in a new Canadian context. When circumstances dictate a return to South Korea, it’s a home that Dong-hyun doesn’t even remember.
Riceboy Sleeps lays out its interwoven stories simply, shifting between the different perspectives of its protagonists. Poignantly capturing Dong-hyun’s loneliness and frustration alongside So-young’s isolation and sacrifices, Shim keeps the film compassionate and poetic, building to a final image that’s as lovely as it is shattering. Winner of TIFF 2022’s Platform Prize for its bold directorial vision, this film establishes…the presence of an important new Canadian filmmaker.
April 26, 2023 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
SilverCity Newmarket Cinemas & XSCAPE Entertainment Centre
18195 Yonge St
East Gwillimbury, ON
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Cast: Choi Seung-yoon, Dohyun Noel Hwang, Ethan Hwang, Anthony Shim
Runtime: 117 min
Language: English, Korean