It’s Saturday night and time for the Gothenburg International Film festival! I am very excited since this is the first time that I will watch a South Korean movie. The film is called December and is about a girl in her last school year that has a crush on a guy working late night shifts at a kiosk.

I am wondering: “How is love in Korea?” Will the love story resemble a Hollywood movie? When one of my Korean class mates and I enter the room it is already filled with both young and old, Swedish and international people waiting in suspense for the film to begin. This year’s motto of the festival is “500 films from around the world, 500 views to see the world”. And as it turns out, at least for this movie it seems to be true – it’s not similar to any film that I have seen before.

The film is divided into several loosely connected sequences, each for one month of the year. With each scene the protagonist tries to come closer to her dream guy and draw his attention by presenting gifts or asking questions. The guy – who appears slightly older and a university student – seems to be totally ignorant of her various approaches and flirtatious initiatives and is instead captivated entirely in the suspense of a book that he is reading. Throughout the film, the director manages to establish an atmosphere of uncertainty and mystery. Instead of using endless dialogues, the audience becomes a close and active observer – following the non-verbal expressions of the protagonists (which tell a lot more about their relationship than their actual conversations).

I am struck by how the mood in the film is created by simplicity and silence rather special effects, as in a mainstream movie. The next day, I make an exception, and wake up really early to see a South African comedy in Bioplatset. This film called Felix stands in a great contrast to the latter, as it is colourful, joyful, and full of South African jazz, swing, and gospel music. What surprises me even more is that after the film, the audience is cheering loudly and clapping. Rather unusual for the Swedes, I think to myself, a people that so far I had perceived as rather quiet. But you never stop learning….

Man lär sig något nytt idag.

Written by Mirjam Michel