"Planet of Snail": The Best Documentary I've Seen at IDFA

by Peter Knegt
November 21, 2011 7:55 AM
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IDFA "Planet of Snail"

Seung-Jun Yi's doc "Planet of Snail" is screening here at IDFA and I have to quickly remark that it totally blew me away.  And no, it's not a nature documentary about snails. It's a quietly powerful portrait of Young-Chan, a Korean man who is both deaf and blind (he calls himself a "snail" as he can only communicate through touch).  At the centre of the story is Young-Chan's relationship with his wife Soon-Ho, who lovingly works as his eyes and ears.

With impressive intimacy, "Snail" depicts what has to be of the most endearing relationships portrayed in a documentary I've seen in some time. The manner in which the pair respect each other, laugh with one another - despite the complications of their situation - works as a significant testament to the potential of the human spirit and the power of love. It also gives a clear window into the lives of people facing what could clearly be a brutally lonely disability.

Sounds cheesy, but for me it was a beacon of optimistic energy amidst an intensely foggy, admittedly hungover afternoon in Amsterdam. I'm sure "Snail" is heading to every documentary film festival it wants to from hereonin, so definitely look for it.

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