Documentary Review: Crossings (2021) by Deann Borshey Liem

Why is there nevertheless no finish to the Korean War? Deann Borshey Liem has no answers, but she does film a possible remedy: a peaceful ladies&amprsquors march across the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating North (DPRK) and South Korea (ROK). In &#8220Crossings&#8221, she follows Korean American activist Christine Ahn. Liem witnesses how Ahn amasses a group of thirty notable ladies, which includes Nobel Peace laureates, philanthropists, and activists like Mairead Maguire, Abigail Disney, and Gloria Stienem, in 2015. She and her camera crew patiently document the group&amprsquors historic journey from Pyongyang to Seoul, with their ultimate aim to cross the border at the historic Joint Safety Region. The future of peninsular peace, Ahn argues, lies in the hands of ladies like themselves. 

“Crossings is screening at San Diego Asian Film Festival

Understandably, the delicate geopolitics of the Koreas haunts the group from the starting of their journey. The ROK government throws a wrench in their plans by demanding that the group cross the border by way of the highway, not at the JSA. Critics from each ROK and abroad scrutinize Ahn&amprsquors naive pro-North Korean outburst in Pyongyang. North Korean defectors publicly protest this international group&amprsquors program, questioning their involvement with DPRK officials, in spite of the government&amprsquors track record of atrocious human rights violations. Regardless of all this, Ahn and her group stay steadfast. They continue their journey across the border, triumphantly uniting with other ladies activists in the South. 

A mere synopsis could convince a single to think that Liem&amprsquors documentary reads as a naive PR piece for Ahn&amprsquors peace initiatives. A closer appear, nevertheless, reveals the quite a few anxieties grounded inside the project. Regardless of the uniform media coverage on Ahn&amprsquors group, Liem uncovers every person&amprsquors issues. Some actively struggle to dismantle any individual prejudice against the DPRK other individuals find out to tone down their enthusiasm. In this way, Ahn&amprsquors project navigates the decades of fraught political history. How must an external group contact for peace by way of reunification when that idea is in and of itself so heavily politicized? In this conversation about peace, Liem deftly showcases the nuances of person opinion and bias embedded into a front for solidarity. These thirty ladies activists &#8211 a sample size of so quite a few extra ladies like them &#8211 not all completely the exact same. According to Liem, that in and of itself is not a weakness. The diversity of angles, in truth, only tends to make the group stronger. 

It is, nevertheless, tough to just invest in Ahn&amprsquors (and by proxy, Liem&amprsquors) argument. Their contact for peace brings up extra queries than it does answers. If reunification is the peaceful answer to war, then what does the aftermath appear like? In a striking series of interviews with North Korean elders, Liem involves footage of ladies separated from their loved ones mainly because of the war. Peace must reunite households across the border, Ahn argues, as an act of decolonial healing beyond the US sphere of influence.&nbsp

Whilst this all sounds fantastic on paper, it becomes tougher to argue with every passing day. Currently, more than 7 decades have passed because the outbreak of the Korean War couple of folks with memories of a unified peninsula stay. What are we to do with the financial ramifications of reunification? What are we to do with the human rights violations of DPRK? Will it actually be achievable to just hold hands and sing kumbaya as soon as we get rid of the border? How a great deal of this reunification, then, would really serve the people today living in the two Korea&amprsquors?

These queries are not at the fault of Liem&amprsquors production at all. They would haunt any project that dreams of reunification. Probably this is why so a great deal of Liem&amprsquors film relies upon sentiment rather, like so quite a few South Korean cinematic precedents. In a diasporic slip, &#8220Crossings&#8221 highlights the sheer tragedy of a nation divided into two, a great deal like the war dramas akin to &#8220Ode to My Father&#8221 (2014). Human loss alone is adequate to propel the ladies&amprsquors march forward.&nbsp

Taken collectively, &#8220Crossings&#8221 is a complicated documentary to swallow. For these familiar with the Korean War, &#8220Crossings&#8221 is an exciting commentary penned by Korean diaspora. For newcomers to the challenge, it serves as a decolonial reader into alterities beyond the US narrative. All in all, &#8220Crossings&#8221 follows an altogether uncomplicated premise about an extraordinarily complicated challenge. This permits it to do what documentary does ideal: to spark conversation. 



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