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Film Screening

Old Partner

Directed by Lee Chung-ryoul, 2008
25 February 2011

Old Partner or Wonang sori which literally means ‘sound of a cow bell’ focusses on the wonderful relationship between a 40-year-old cow and Choi, an 80 year-old farmer. The film is set in the small rural town of Hanul-ri in Sangun-myeon, in the North Gyeongsang Province in South Korea. Even though the old cow cannot help him as effectively as in the past, the animal is still his best helper and best friend. One day, a doctor diagnoses that the cow has cancer. The old man realises that they only have only one year left together.

A conflation of documentary and narrative filmmaking, the movie is a snapshot of the last year of the cow’s life and a wistful portrait of South Korea’s agrarian past. The octogenarian farmer, Choi Won-kyun and his wife Lee Sam-soon, have not mechanized their farm because Choi insists on tilling the fields with his “old partner”.

The film, when released, was a surprise success setting the record for the highest-grossing independent film in Korean film history. The film won the PIFF Mecenat Award at the Pusan International Film Festival; the Audience Award at the Seoul Independent Film Festival; the Korean Independent Film Award and was the first South Korean film to compete at the Sundance Film Festivel. Lee Chungryoul became the first independent film director to receive the “Rookie Director Award” at the PaekSang Arts Awards.

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