Erick Oh first got the idea for his Oscar shortlisted film “Namoo” about a decade ago when his grandfather died. “During the grieving process I made myself a little picture book drawings of a man who hangs his own objects and belongings on to a tree,” he tells Gold Derby during our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video interview above). Oh kept these drawings to himself until about two years ago when he had an inner calling. “Maybe it’s time for me to take it out and comprehend further and deeper and then share it with the world.”
“Namoo,” which is Korean for the word “tree,” centers on an artist and views his life from birth until death. As he ages, a tree next to him ages at the same pace and is also where the artist keeps all his belongings. The film was recently shortlisted for this year’s Best Animated Short Film Oscar and is currently available to stream on HBO Max. Oh was nominated in that category at last year’s Oscars for his short film “Opera.”
“Namoo” and his previous film “Opera” are films that are extremely different in terms of their scope. “When making ‘Opera,’ my vision was outward. I was observing and I was studying. ‘Namoo’ was really a journey deeper into myself. That was the biggest difference as a creator.” While the two films have very differing visions, Oh still sees a common thread between the two of them. “At the end of the day, it is a celebration of life because life is full of ups and downs, beautiful things, all those mixed together.”
The experience of getting nominated for an Oscar for “Opera” last year and getting to attend the ceremony was a surreal experience for Oh. “I still can’t believe if that really happened in my life or in my dreams. It was such an amazing experience.” While last year’s ceremony was scaled down due to the pandemic, Oh thought that it actually made the experience more enjoyable. “Last year’s was a very intimate, family-like environment and it was at Union Station so that everyone could hang outdoors. I had a blast and, again, it was just a great honor.”
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