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Driving Home (1999)


As her father drives them home, a young girl newly emigrated from Korea battles with the physical discomfort of travel sickness and emotional confusion about her cultural identity. Voice-over narration by Anita Beckman.

Curator’s notes

Completed whilst Susan Danta (nee Kim) was a student at the VCA School of Film and Television, Driving Home reflects a recurrent theme of the animator’s work: cultural identity conveyed from a child’s perspective. Similar to her later film Mother Tongue (2002), Driving Home uses voice-over narration (by Anita Beckman) to relate Danta’s personal experiences as a young Korean immigrant. The film’s oil paint under-camera animation technique reflects the influence of the Canadian animator Caroline Leaf. The young girl’s travel sickness and sense of confusion about her identity are conveyed by the swirling strokes of paint whilst the wide open road of the Australian landscape symbolises her feeling of isolation.

Compared with the calm surety with which her father drives and accepts the benefits of their new homeland (‘his vision straight ahead’), the girl is as restless as the wind which, like her mind, sways 'East to West, West to East’. Despite her sense of belonging in Australia, she is aware of her cultural differences which are ‘betrayed’ by her facial features. The car journey becomes a metaphor for the family’s journey from Korea to Australia during which ‘parts of [her] were left behind’.

Driving Home screened widely at national and international film festivals and won a number of awards, including the Melbourne International Student Animation Festival Award for Best Australian Short Film (2000), the Kaleidoscope Film Festival Best Film Award and the Sydney Asia Pacific Film Festival Award for Best Short Film (2001). Susan Danta recently directed an animated documentary series for SBS entitled Heirlooms (2009).