This is one in a series of posts for HuffPost Culture's "The Sundance Diaries," a month-long multimedia diary kept by the international filmmakers whose 64 short films were selected for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
My film "Dol (First Birthday)" is about a family celebration. Dol is a traditional Korean first birthday party. The baby is dressed up in a colorful hanbok. The family gathers and shares food. Objects are set out in front of the baby: rice, money, a pencil, thread, a paintbrush. The object the child chooses predicts the his or her future. For example, if the baby chooses a pencil, he will be a scholar. If she chooses a paintbrush, she'll be an artist.
When I did research for my film, I asked my parents what I chose at my dol. They couldn't remember. My father searched the attic and found an old beta tape with footage from my dol. I chose two things: I grabbed the spool of thread with one hand (long life!) and played with the bowl of rice with the other (wealth!).
WATCH a clip from Ahn's Dol ceremony:
Watching that footage, I am so amazed by how young my parents look. My mother and father look like friends of mine, people I might grab a drink with. The timbre of their voices are clearer, pitched just a little higher. I can see in my father's eyes a dream of the future. What will this baby accomplish in his life? Who will he grow up to be?
Dol celebrations are about the future, a family's hopes and dreams. It feels so appropriate that I made this film now, at this specific point in my life. I'm making breakthroughs as a person, as a filmmaker. I can't help but feel like I'm answering the questions my father asked himself 24 years ago, albeit quietly, humbly. Now, new questions emerge. What's next, after Sundance? What will my family life look like?
Perhaps these questions can wait. All I know is that I am thankful. I want to celebrate! I posted my first blog entry for the Huffington Post on my Facebook profile. Everyone has been so supportive: my friends, my fellow filmmakers, and even anonymous commenters. The response has been overwhelming.
I am so thankful, not just for my family, but also my filmmaking family: my cast, my crew, and my mentors at CalArts. They indulged me. They helped me do this for me. For that, I will always be grateful.
WATCH a trailer for Ahn's "Dol":
"Dol (First Birthday)" can be seen in full at Yahoo! Screen, alongside eight other Sundance short films as a part of the Yahoo! Audience Award.
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