A story within a story about lust, loneliness and obsession, Flamenco is an impressionistic dance film that follows a young outsider as she plays the role of femme fatale.
Writer/director/producer: Gloria Ui Young Kim
Producer: Coral Aiken
I love the story of the femme fatale. An ancient archetype, the femme fatale, or bad girl, is the sexual creature or ‘madwoman’ with uncontrollable emotions and appetites.
Being a woman, I see this archetype differently than as seen through the traditional male gaze.
In literature or film the femme fatale is usually calculating or crazy. From Barbara Stanwyck in Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity to Catherine Trammell in Paul Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct to Alex Forrest in Adrian Lyne’s Fatal Attraction to Bertha Mason in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, they are the antagonist and positioned to be despised and condemned for being devious and wild.
In Carlos Saura’s 1983 film Carmen an intense choreographer seeks the perfect dancer to play the femme fatale lead and falls in love with her. In his conceit of story within a story, Saura has the choreographer and dancer mirroring the lives of the characters of soldier and gypsy, and the choreographer kills the faithless dancer in a jealous rage.
What I wanted to do with my story and my Carmen was to displace the madwoman from her position as monster and put her in the privileged place of protagonist. To me, this character is someone who is sexual and she suffers from intense loneliness and isolation. It is loneliness that causes her to experience her ‘madness.’
These themes opened up tremendous storytelling possibilities for me. Postmodern art-making has allowed us to question the very forms we use to make art. In filmmaking most narrative is straightforward storytelling in which the fourth wall is rarely questioned.
In keeping with the themes of isolation and madness I played with the idea of the unreliable narrator so that we are not only telling a story about love, obsession and lust, but we are also visually reflecting a mind in ‘madness’ or outside the ‘norm’ and making a statement about the unreliability of thought processes. This mirrors our questioning of the reliability of the kinds of narratives we tell. This loops back to questioning the accepted archetype of femme fatale or madwoman.
Ultimately, this is a story of loneliness and how the mind can play tricks on us when we’re so isolated. This is something I think we can all relate to.
The devices I used – metafiction and the unreliable narrator – are meant to symbolize the themes of mis-perception and misunderstanding, or ‘madness’ that comes from loneliness and isolation and engender in the audience a similar feeling of displacement.
About Gloria Ui Young Kim
Born in Seoul, Korea, writer/director Gloria Ui Young Kim comes from a long line of media makers.
With a degree in English lit from the University of Toronto, she’s worked at numerous magazines, most notably Maclean’s.
She’s an alumni of the Canadian Film Centre’s director’s lab and TIFF talent lab.
Her short film, Rock Garden: A Love Story (CBC, BRAVO, IFC), described by Atom Egoyan as “absolutely beautiful” and “perverse,” has won numerous awards including the global audience award for best anarchy film at Slamdance 2008 and the CBC Canadian Reflections award.
The Auction (CBC, IFC) premiered at Sprockets TIFF 2010 and won best short film among others and is now part of the John VanDuzer Film Collection at TIFF BellLightbox.
She wrote, directed and produced Flamenco for CBC in 2015 (Reel Asian’s pitch competition winner; Canada Council and Toronto Arts Council recipient). The film is screening at Dance Camera West-LA, San Francisco Dance Film Fest, Open Art Short Film Fest, Toronto Korean Film Festival, Ukrainian International Film Festival and more.
She has won numerous golds for her commissioned work at the Cannes Lions, Bessies, the Marketing Awards, One Club and ADCC.
She has been a shadowing director on Back Alley Production’s Global series Bomb Girls and on CBC’s Kim’s Convenience.
Gloria is working on three features: Deception, a thriller about a therapist whose mysterious past becomes intertwined with her present-day stalker (WIFTV genre competition winner); The Banquet about a woman who finds love and acceptance through food and family (Canada Council for the Arts recipient); and Debra and Mona, a redemption story about a naïve Korean stripper and her at-odds 9-year-old daughter (WIDC Feature Film Award Winner, 2016, second round of competition at Sundance Screenwriting Lab 2015; 2015 Spotlight on Screenwriters; 2013 Telefilm Canada New Voices Award).
She is in the prestigious Women in the Director’s Chair career advancement module 2017 and the 2016 CBC Diverse Creators Workshop. Gloria was also in the inaugural Corus Diverse TV Director course in association with NSI in 2015.
She directs for the Canadian Film Centre on an ongoing basis and is on the Charles Street Video board and the WIFT-T engagement committee.
Gloria works as a director/writer/producer for Fifth Story.