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Namoo directed by Erick Oh
Namoo directed by Erick Oh

Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Erick Oh’s (Opera) animated short film Namoo (나무), is inspired by the passing of Erick’s grandfather, Namoo – which translates to “tree” in Korean – marks Oh’s most personal work to date. The theatrical version of Namoo will premiere at Tribeca Film Festival.

The film, completely hand-painted, follows the journey of a man from his beginning to his end. As a young man, he falls in love with painting and as an adult, he falls in love with another person. Nothing lasts forever, and he eventually finds himself a broken man who puts a bandage — literally — on his past and his mind on the future in order to move on. As he faces his own mortality, does he learn to accept the life he’s led?

Namoo is a deeply personal yet surprisingly universal piece. During the pandemic, many have questioned what fulfillment is and what we want to leave behind; Namoo explores these themes head on. Instead of leaves, there are objects in the tree’s branches that hold the memories from key moments of our protagonist’s life. The story’s “namoo” grows with the character from a small bud all the way to a fully mature tree and is quite literally shaped by his life’s experiences along the way.

Growing up in Korea, Erick Oh experienced all four seasons every year, believing that each transformation was magical, so what better symbol to communicate the passage of one’s life than a tree? Spring was filled with newborn life and blooming flowers; summer was exuberant, every plant a youthful green; in the fall, the trees colored themselves into beautiful reds and yellows, only to shed all their leaves; and at last, in winter, they stood enveloped in pure snow white. Yet as the year came to an end, the following spring once again brought it back to life.

Erick Oh’s films have won numerous awards and honors including an Oscar nomination, this year, for Best Animated Short for “Opera,” which also won the 2020 top prize for content across all artforms awarded by the Korean government. He has been awarded honors at the Annie Awards, Annecy Festival, SIGGRAPH and more. 6-time Emmy Award winning Baobab Studios produced Namoo and is creatively led by Eric Darnell (writer/director of Antz and the Madagascar films).

Watch the trailer for Namoo

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