Korean-American filmmaker and video essayist Kogonada made his directorial debut this year with Columbus, which charts the unlikely friendship that forms between two strangers against the impressive architectural backdrop of Columbus, Indiana. Starring John Cho as Jin, a disillusioned translator who has flown in from Seoul to look after his ailing father, and Haley Lu Richardson as Casey, a teen architecture buff who is reluctant to leave her hometown, Columbus also features iconic buildings by the likes of Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Myron Goldsmith, and Deborah Berke. It’s a soulful meditation on the impact of architecture overall—you can read our film review here.
If you missed it in theaters, then you’ll be glad to know that Columbus is now available on iTunes for $12.99. Included in the package is a short documentary on the city that inspired it all called Columbus Story, rendered in Kogonada’s signature, artful style. For an exclusive sneak peek, check out the video below:
The documentary is rooted in a first-person perspective, what Kogonada describes as a "composite" of the archivists he consulted during his research for the film. "I didn’t want to represent some definitive, narrative account contained in seven minutes," he says of the decision. "The more I researched, the more I realized how impossible it would be to capture the story of Columbus in any comprehensive way."
Emphasizing the complex, prismatic nature of the city, the documentary focuses on a key fragment of footage "which seemed to contain the past and the future, and offered a glimpse of a family, a movement, a town-in-the-making...that is, a story," says Kogonada.
The short piece is an apt companion to Columbus, illuminating more overtly the historical significance of Eliel Saarinen’s First Christian Church, which also holds narrative weight in the film. It doesn’t, however, presume to be more than it is—an exploration. "These works are often just me trying to make sense of something, of material, of histories, of form, but in an engaging manner," says Kogonada. "In the end, they are always just beginnings."
To view the full documentary and film, you can purchase Columbus on iTunes.
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