MARCH 9, 2023
USA | 6 minutes | 2022

Documentary, experimental short film directed by Esther Yun Kong
Featuring Esther Yun Kong, Minna Kim, Cherry Fu


An experimental documentary that explores the limits and expansions of digital technology, especially video calling systems, that help connect transnational families in different countries and time zones.

Director’s Statement

FACETIME is an experimental documentary about technology, immigration, and family that attempts to show how video calling systems transcend space and time in the unique situation of a transnational family. The interest in the topic, online video calling, stems from a long history of recreating events and relationships with her family and friends in South Korea over online video calls. Prior to 2006, international calls were prohibitively expensive. The introduction of relatively accessible video calling platforms in the mid-2000s forever changed the culture of international digital communications. Video calls became a part of daily routines, just like eating or watching TV.

FACETIME takes on the task of confronting the unquantifiable, the small joys and frustrations played out over video calls. At its heart, the film is dedicated to my family, and it is a recognition of the hardships they have survived over the years. The impact I hope to bring to the audience is a visual experience of the frustrations and limits coming from the digitization of relationships through a video call, all while highlighting the fact that it still brings happiness to many immigrant families who video call their families through different countries and time zones. Thus, many unusual aspects, such as using the voice of an AI as the voice for narration, were used to create a sense of dehumanization and digitation. The format of this documentary is essentially a video essay of an immigrant’s experience using video calls to reconnect with their families back in their homeland. As a filmmaker, I experimented with reenacting almost all of the shots in the film because I wanted to create an unnatural mood that is difficult to distinguish from reality in terms of emotions.

Furthermore, I was interested in the editing process of this film because it required several video effects like the phone dropping, increasing spotlights, etc. Personally, I had several goals for this film. I wanted every shot to be aesthetically pleasing so that the audience would still stick with watching the film even if they couldn’t connect to thewords that were being said. Another goal was to actually materialize the ideas that formed during storyboarding, like the dropping of the phone. .TV by G. Anthony Svatek was my biggest influence in terms of the visuals, tone, and mood of the film.

– Esther Yun Kong

FaceTime is one of the many great projects shared with CineAsian Films through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them, submit your project.


Director: Esther Yun Kong
Cinematographer (for Scene #3): Nur Guzeldere
Featuring the voice of: Youngsook Kim

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