SUMMARY: Manuk, a young boy playing alone in war-torn Korea, receives what he thinks is a birthday present.
WHY IT’S HERE: Sejong Park’s ‘Birthday Boy’ was a major Oscar contender in its year that has sadly been largely forgotten since then. A tender, very sad story of little Manuk who spends his birthday playing alone in war-torn Korean streets, ‘Birthday Boy’ has a devastating gut-punch ending which is so subtly dropped in that it’s easy to miss the significance first time round. It’s massively atmospheric, the computer animation handled extraordinarily well. Manuk is a terrifically expressive character and his lonely playtime activities carry the film. The significance of what occurs is devastating and yet we never see a moment of realisation, just the implications of the calm before the storm, which makes ‘Birthday Boy’ all the more horrifyingly effective and haunting.