Yellow Door: 90’s Lo-fi Film Club Movie Analysis
Yellow Door: ’90s Lo-fi Film Club as the most recent generation to not always possess access to motion pictures at their fingertip, Lee Hyuk-rae’s ode to a bygone era in South Korean cinema is a touching tribute to his generation’s college years in the early 90’s. While some of the group’s members moved on to jobs unrelated to filmmaking, others, like alumnus Bong Joon-ho, utilised their experiences there as a springboard for new endeavours in the industry.
The documentary “Yellow Door: ’90s Lo-fi Film Club” does not adhere to the conventional narrative niceties of the genre. There is no generally accepted timeline. After 30 years together, members of the Yellow Door Film Academy have different recollections of the films they’ve seen and the order in which certain events occurred. In the beginning of the documentary, a friend of Bong’s tells a heartwarming story about Bong’s first film, “Looking for Paradise,” a stopped-motion cartoon short that impressed his tiny cohort around the time but which Bong suppressed for decades due to his embarrassment over his clumsy debut.
As she wraps up her explanation, Lee, watching through the camera’s view, points out that she has the movie’s protagonist and antagonist switched. The faulty recollection sparks a round of humorous “Rashomon”-style tales and countertales, with each player bringing their own unique set of life events to the table. Obviously Bong plays a significant role in the movie, but he isn’t the only motivating force. Lee, a member of the film club, shows up with around a dozen other movie buffs who used to get together in a room with a yellow door on the second floor.
Bong labelled many of the illegal VHS tapes in both the original tongue and Korean, and the space also housed cinema books where the readers had to use their imaginations to visualise the scenes from films they hadn’t seen. The documentary is filled with wistful reflections on the simpler times when its subjects could watch films, argue about their semiotic significance, and try out new filmmaking techniques using sixteen millimetres film and video recordings.
Students of the Yellow Door Film Academy from all around the world get together via Zoom, shedding tears and groaning about their past sins as they recount their shared history. Through their recollections, we discover that this film organisation was only one of several that sprung up around the city, catering to the growing demand for film among students and enthusiasts.
South Korea’s first worldwide film fest and a wave of art house theatres bloomed in the mid-1990s are both products of the country’s burgeoning grassroots film culture. Individuals of the group grow up and went in different directions as the underground cinema industry gained popularity. Other people including Lee and Bong, maintained their careers in filmmaking.
Lee’s “Yellow Door: ’90s Lo-fi Film Club” reconstructs an intriguing tale, but the film only gives it a restricted visual treatment, mostly via talking head interviews with the many members of the club. Furthermore, many names and movie titles were lost on me since they were not translated into English in the captioned version I viewed.
Though the film is really just someone else’s reunion scrapbook, it’s difficult to ignore the film’s charming qualities, such as Bong’s adorably enthusiastic reaction to his first video camera. He held it close to his chest during the Yellow Door meeting to keep it safe. This is the thing that makes or breaks a college experience.