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As technology seeps more and more into our everyday lives, writer-director Kogonada is asking audiences to reflect on loss and connection with his new Sundance film, the science-fiction drama “After Yang.”
Colin Farrell plays Jake, a father determined to find a way to repair Yang (Justin H. Min), the android companion and live-in babysitter for his daughter (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja). The film is based on Alexander Weinstein’s short story, “Saying Goodbye to Yang,” which Kogonada was drawn to because of how “grounded” the story felt.
“[The story] was about a family where [the loss of Yang] kind of created a space for reflection,” he told TheWrap’s Steve Pond at TheWrap Sundance Studio. “What I loved about the short story is that when Yang breaks down, it almost feels, like, annoying — like when an appliance breaks down. It didn’t feel tragic at the time, [but the story] really is about the discovery of loss. There was something there that I found really moving.”
“In some ways,” he added, “Yang is both like this profound robot, but he’s also like any grandparent that you have who is sitting on the corner and who seems like they’ve almost become childlike. But if you open them up, they have this profound sense of time that we don’t realize.”
TheWrap spoke with the writer-director and cast members Farrell, Min, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja, Jodie Turner-Smith, Haley Lu Richardson, admired the openness in the film’s script and how it touched on several poignant themes without being overly emotional or extreme.
“There was nowhere to hide in the script,” he told TheWrap. “It’s not a script that has any pointed moments, any super emotional moments or any scenes that felt like they were loud. And yet, all the important themes that I certainly have dealt with and deal with and will deal with in the future — loss, grief, family, belonging, the ostracization we can feel sometimes from ourselves and those we love, parenting — all of that stuff was what the film fundamentally was about. And so I read the script and was haunted by [it] and just really, really wanted to be a part of it.”
For more commentary on “After Yang” from Kogonada, Farrell, Min, Tjandrawidjaja, Turner-Smith, and Richardson, watch the clip above.
TheWrap’s Sundance Studio is presented by NFP and National Geographic Documentary Films.