“What made you happy?”
With a blue pastel in hand, Young-mi Kim converses with her mother as they draw together. Her aging mother, Konyae Hoer, scribbles with a bright orange pastel. Burdened with health concerns, including dementia, she struggles through portions of their conversation, especially when asked about her memories. As she colors, though, her shaking hands become steadier. Konyae Hoer answers her daughter’s questions with good humor and concentration, showcasing her strength and love for her daughter. As they color with pastels, mother and daughter tease each other and laugh. In moments like these, grief lifts from mortality a little.
Directors Young-mi Kim and Forest Ian Etsler tell a compelling story in Painter & Mum, coupling the creation of art with the heartbreak of mortality. The colors in this 10-minute short film create an atmosphere of warmth and gentleness, despite their morbid reality. As samples of Young-mi Kim’s artwork flickers on the screen, we come to understand why she finds comfort in art. After a devastating childhood, art is her lifesaver.
We see Young-mi Kim holding her mother’s hand tightly while they walk through purple azaleas. As they eat meals together, she fills her mother’s bowl with orange kimchi. The tenderness with which Young-mi Kim cares for her mother fills us with compassion for them both. As they use art and colors to understand each other’s life stories, we learn how art can be a safety net.
Painter & Mum shows that sometimes all that’s needed to understand one another is art. This short film is perfect for people interested in heart-warming stories.
Producer: Young-mi Kim
Directors: Young-mi Kim and Forest Ian Etsler
Images courtesy of Flying Film Festival
About the Author: Annabelle Harsch
Annabelle has perpetual graphite smears on her hands from stories she wrote. She’s written about secrets and regret, but her favorite things to write about are love and dragons, good or bad. When Annabelle isn’t reading and writing, she’s usually hiking or buying plants and books.