SXSW: Hannah Bang’s ‘Soak’ makes debut

(Hannah Bang’s MFA thesis film is Soak)

Hannah Bang’s film debut Soak is only the beginning of her exploration of female characters who carry an inner conflict that torments them. This MFA thesis live action short film touches on the turmoil of a broken family, and its affects between a mother and daughter.

The female centric film has been selected to premiere at the high profile South by Southwest Film Festival.

In this story, 16 year old Yeonsoo Tak meets with her mother who ran away, intent on convincing her to return home. However, as the night wears on, Yeonsoo realizes that her mother has hopes of her own, something that had never occurred to Yeonsoo.

Stuck between her mother’s new life plans and the pressures from her controlling father, Yeonsoo is faced with an impossible choice. The writer and director felt passionate about bringing her womanhood and culture to the screen.

Being a South Korean native, while also spending time in and studying in the states as an adult, Hannah can’t help but bring the cultural blend she thoroughly enjoys in her life to her work. Growing up and attending boarding school in South Korea where she would carry a camcorder around filming her friends and then edit the footage with music marks the beginning of this young filmmakers journey.

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Hannah recalls, “I knew I wanted to make movies because of watching movies.” Movies like Oldboy and Zodiac captivated this young girl with a camcorder and her own vision. Fast forward to a young woman  graduating from the Cooper Union School of Art in New York, and then moving to LA and recently completing her M.F.A. from USC Film & TV production program.

In her USC thesis film she sets the stage in the first scene at a Korean Spa,  a place that she describes as “like a feminine womb,” where  a mother and daughter— in line with the film’s title— soak.  This safe space where women are literally and figuratively in their most naked form evokes the intimately feminine and culturally significant. 

Hannah Bang

Each frame in her thesis film is like a painting and stylistically is chillingly reminiscent of filmmaker Park Chan-wook, one of her biggest influences visually. This young female director and writer  has a love of mixing the beautiful and macabre in her storytelling, as seen in Soak. 

Hannah is currently working on writing and pitching three female driven psychological thriller features. In her work she plans to continue to challenge the typical female archetypes like the one-dimensional victim or heroine and tell nuanced stories of women that are different,  aggressive, and even unlikable.

She tells Reel 360, wants to create female characters and a place for “women to have an array of nuances that aren’t necessarily likable, but real, who are free to do whatever they want.”

Her debut film is only the dawn of the female driven and visually stunning stories to come from Hannah Bang.

Soak is now available on the SXSW portal.

Contributor Megan Penn has a passion for stories in which women are in the drivers seat, along with a bad case of retrophilia.