LENGTH: 110 MIN
COUNTRY: South Korea
Winner of the 2014 Austin Asian American Film Festival Audience Award, “Cart” is a based-on-fact drama about the injustices of Korea’s labor system against women and a group of middle-aged chain store workers who decide to rise up against the establishment.
Beginning as an ensemble drama showing the different and difficult circumstances of the store’s workers, “Cart” takes its time to set up the tense standoff between the company and its former employees. As things escalate, the inherent unfairness of the labor system is brought to the fore and the power brokers show their true colors, treating the strikers as an infestation that needs to be wiped out, first by hired thugs and then by water cannons.
Director Boo personalizes the repercussions of Korea’s poor treatment of workers, yet she resists the impulse to present a one-sided argument. Mostly shot in a large, nondescript store, the film’s tone is stripped down, limited to whites, grays and the pale blues of the store uniforms with color injected in choice moments and spaces.
CAST & DIRECTORS
DIRECTOR: Boo Ji-Young
SCREENWRITER: Kim Kyung-chan
PRODUCER: Jamie Shim
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Kim Woo-hyung
CAST: Yum Jung-ah, Moon Jung-hee
ABOUT THE FILM
The film is largely inspired by a 2007 incident in which Homever, a supermarket chain owned by E-Land Group, dismissed temporary workers, mostly women, and replaced them with outsourced employees to bypass a new law requiring that employees be given regular-worker status after a certain period. Dismissed employees and labor unions went on strike in front of the supermarket for 512 days until the matter was settled, with some employees reinstated. Director Boo Ji-young also studied the plight of irregular cleaning staff at major universities in Korea, including Hongik and Yonsei.