Sangsun Choi’s The History of Intimacy (VIDEO)

Jan 28, 20208 Issue, Stories

Photo  from Sangsun Choi

Editor’s Note: Our publisher, Rick Budhwa, selected this video as his staff pick. He says, “I found this video surprising and captivating. It sums up how, in our busy lives, we don’t always take a pause to see the beauty. This video is that pause. It shows a person that I don’t have a deep relationship with — a dry cleaner — and yet, they learn such intimate details about each of their clients without ever having an active exchange. It’s anthropology at its finest.”

Sangsun Choi’s short documentary The History of Intimacy will force you to re-examine the casual, everyday relationships in your life—those that constantly surround us, but that we often take for granted.

Choi shot the five-minute film while working at a laundromat and attending film school. It offers a glimpse into the life of a service worker who strives to develop meaningful connections with his customers, people he sees regularly but fleetingly as they drop off their washing. “I know who they are. But they don’t know who I am,” the film tells us. “When I touch the cloth, I am an intimate stranger.”

Relationship is a recurring theme in Choi’s films: Talk to my Son carries a message from a North Korean defector to her son in China via the filmmaker and Unfinished Legacy resulted from Choi striking up a conversation with an African street artist in Milwaukee who asked, “Who has it worse in the United States, an African male or an Asian male?”

Sangsun Choi is a visual storyteller whose work focuses on an ethnographic approach to social minorities and vulnerable people. His documentaries and photographs explore not only the value of truth but also an artistic representation of human life. Originally from South Korea, he has made dozens of pieces about child labour, North Korean defectors, war refugees, disabled people and immigrants. Sangsun has presented his work at film festivals worldwide, including Athens International Film and Video Festival, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, RiverRun International Film Festival, Wisconsin Film Festival, ETHNOCINECA-International Documentary Film Festival Vienna. He is also a winner at the Broadcast Education Association Festival of Media Arts in 2018. Sangsun is currently working as an assistant professor of media production at Malone University in Canton, Ohio.