South Korea was booming in the early 1990s. It was one of the biggest global success stories. Driven by a buoyant real estate market, Seoul in particular was rapidly expanding. An economic explosion which placed it at the forefront of developing economies in Asia. The Miracle on the Han River was in full flow when the Seongsu Bridge collapsed in 1994. This is the backdrop to Bora Kim’s new coming-of-age film, House of Hummingbird.

Eun-hee (Ji-hu Park) is a lonely 14-year-old who lives a quiet and misunderstood life. Neglected or misused by her quarrelsome parents (Seung-Yeon Lee and In-gi Jeong), delinquent sister (Su-yeon Park) and bullying brother (Sang-yeon Sohn), she takes solace in wandering the streets with her best friend (Seo-yoon Park), searching for something more. Her life changes when a new tutor (Sae-byuk Kim) arrives at school.  

House of Hummingbird is a deft and affecting coming-of-age drama which equals Eighth Grade in its feeling of authenticity. Whilst there’s no major melodrama or huge reveals, it’s a film which will gently grab you and never let go. Eun-hee is determined and resilient. It’s her courage and steadfastness which shines through. House of Hummingbird brims with compassion and empathy. It’s a rich and hopeful piece of filmmaking.

House of Hummingbird screened at Fantasia Festival 2019.