Today’s World Cinema Documentary Competition profiles wrap up with Sundance alum Valerie Veatch’s LOVE CHILD, a South Korean/US production, an in-depth look at the real life consequences of a young couple’s virtual reality.
Sundance Program Description:
In 2010, a South Korean baby named Sarang died of malnutrition. The death of a child is always horrific, but the circumstances leading up to this one were even more shocking: Sarang died because her parents were playing games online. Ordinarily, this would be a clear case of negligence, but LOVE CHILD takes a different approach by looking at what led to the parents’ gaming addiction and how their child became a secondary concern. The film then expands from this tragedy to examine the way that South Korea’s place as the world leader of Internet infrastructure has adversely affected its communal society.
Director Valerie Veatch skillfully weaves a story of personal tragedy together with social commentary. Instead of merely condemning the parents, she shows how embracing technology can have unforeseen negative consequences. By interjecting footage from the game the parents loved to play into the film, Veatch vividly conveys how intoxicating these games can be and shows how easily the lines between real life and virtual reality can blur.
Veatch made her directorial debut at Sundance with ME @THE ZOO_ (2012), in collaboration with Chris Moukarbel. Her first solo outing is produced, among several others, by artist David Foox, who also served as associate producer on ZOO; and executive produced by T-Mobile CEO John Legere. The doc will make its cable broadcast premiere on HBO.
Why You Should Watch:
Like ZOO, Veatch’s new project explores the impact of technology on modern society, using, as her previous film did, a larger than life story to illustrate broader issues. Where Chris Crocker revealed the ephemerality of Internet celebrity and the positive and negative consequences of online connections, the story of Sarang and her parents looks at the unusually widespread adoption of gaming and tech in South Korean culture and so-called Internet addiction (the latter explored in a Chinese context in fellow Sundance World Cinema Documentary Competition entry WEB JUNKIE). For some, these factors have created a sense of reality where online and offline realms become strangely enmeshed – illustrated here in the clever incorporation of the plotline from the parents’ favorite game, Prius, as a parallel track to the investigation into Sarang’s fate.
Check out the film’s trailer. For more information about the film, visit its website and Facebook page. As they become available, I’ll link to Veatch’s Meet the Artist Sundance video profile and to her Indiewire filmmaker interview. For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.
To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance filmmaker class of 2014 Twitter list.