“KKUM” reminds us that we are living dreams
Kangmin Kim invites us into the vicarious dreams of his mother in “KKUM.” In this stop-motion animated experimental memoir, Kim illustrates his mother’s prophetic visions in monochromatic styrofoam, cotton, and light. These elements are re-contextualized in a way that allows Kim to make sense of uncanny changes in his life.
Material manifestations of fire, insects, pumpkins, and corpses become chapters in Kim’s narration. Kim explains that his “mother’s dreams surround [him] like a shield” and have echoed into passing his exams, healing his childhood sickness, and finally having a long-awaited child. Material then becomes immaterial. Styrofoam becomes sweat, smoke, and static. The film constantly balances jauntiness and foreboding and hopeful and harsh in equal measure as the accompanied score changes between dreams in percussive intensity. Kim succeeds in leading us down a branching and pondering river. By contemplating these interior reckonings, his mother’s memory finds space between the real and imagined–fitting for a dream.
Kim’s choice of soft materials as given flesh grants us a visual passport to his mother’s prayers and how they have permeated his mind. His film offers us a way to honor the quirks of his mother’s love in perpetuity, because in truth… what are we if not the dreams of our parents come to life?
“KKUM” was screened as part of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.