Sheffield Doc/Fest Review: The Joys and Sorrows of Young Yuguo

Obsession is a strange bird. While most people seem to flit in and out of this kind of myopic tunnel vision, for a small minority it never falters. It becomes something which takes over their entire life. Occupies every waking moment. It’s all they can ever think about. A dream that they simply must realise, whatever the cost. While this kind of compulsion can be a motivating force, there are also a number of potential downsides.

16-year-old Yuguo has a strange hobby. Well, it’s more of an all-encompassing passion, really. Unlike his peers who spend their time studying text books, desperate to get the grades they need, he prefers to read ‘worthless’ books. 19th century Eastern European romantic poetry, to be exact. His parents support his dream, which he realises when he’s accepted onto a course to study in Bacau, Romania. The Joys and Sorrows of Young Yuguo travels with him.

The Joys and Sorrows of Young Yuguo is one of those rare films which does something magical but is also profoundly sad. In Ilinca Calugareanu’s (Chuck Norris vs Communism, A Cops and Robbers Story) documentary we witness his journey through his own and others’ eyes. The profound impact he has on the locals in such a short time is heart-warming. It sometimes takes an outsider to make people realise what they have.

The Joys and Sorrows of Young Yuguo screens at Sheffield Doc/Fest.

Previous Sheffield Doc/Fest Review: Ithaka
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