Film: Kung Fu Grandma

Year: 2012

Director: Jeong-One Park

Running time: 27 minutes


Kenyan Kung-fu-enthusiasts

Kids – Kriminal-or-Kind

Other Info:

This screening took place at Roxy Bar & Screen, London and as part of the London Short Film Festival 2013 – Long[er] Docs strand.


• Best Short Film at the Society for Visual Anthropology Film Festival (USA)
• Best Short Film at the London Feminist Film Festival (UK)
• Best Short Film at the Cineffable (France)
• First Prize at the International Women’s Film Festival (Korea)
• Nominated for the One World Media Awards (UK)
• Finalists for the Médecins Sans Frontières Film Competition (Australia)


• Official Selection at the 15th One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival (Czech Republic)
• Official Selection at the DocPoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival (Finland)
• Official Selection at the 10th London Short Film Festival (UK)
• Official Selection at the Quadrangle Film Festival (UK)
• Official Selection at the DocsDF Festival Internacional de Cine Documental de la Ciudad de México (Mexico)
• Official Selection at the New York City Independent Film Festival (USA)
• Official Selection at the 18th Next Frame International Film Festival (USA)
• Official Selection at the Show Me Justice Film Festival (USA)
• Official Selection at the AIFF Aruba International Film Festival (Aruba)
• Official Selection on the Newcomer Documentary at the 10th Reykjavík Shorts & Docs Festival (Iceland)
• Official Selection at the this human world International Human Rights Film Festival in Vienna (Austria)
• Official Selection at the Umeå International Short Film Festival (Sweden)
• Official Selection at the FIRST Youth Film Festival (China)
• Official Selection at the 5th Women’s International Film Festival (India)
• Official Selection at the 9th IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival (India)
• Official Selection at the Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan International Festival of Documentary Films (Kyrgyzstan)
• Invited to the 12th CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival (Canada)
• Invited to International Documentary Association (IDA)’s the 16th Annual DocuWeeks™ (USA)


Well, well, well… A film which encapsulates 3 focus points of mine – A documentary; A film by a Korean filmmaker; A short film.

Yes, that was before I’d really taken in what was written in the LSFF promotional material for Kung Fu Grandma.  

Short Film Festivals

This being:  

“Korogocho; a Kenyan slum in which the older women have become vulnerable to attack from younger men, fuelled by rumours that intercourse with an elderly woman can be a cure for AIDS. Now, a group of grandmothers come together to protect themselves – the eponymous Kung Fu Grannies”


A place in Nairobi, Africa.

An elderly woman nurses a young boy [a young boy?  Surely by definition a ‘boy’ is young anyway?] but he has a spot – a large one – on the underneath of his foot. Pus comes out ewwww, but this is reality.  Real reality, not the TV sort.

We are told of rape, and not only rape but rape of the kind by which HIV is passed.

We later witness various old women taking classes.  Yep, taking classes and also taking turns… In hitting a boxing punch bag of sorts and repeatedly saying, “I don’t want to talk to you!” – At first, one may find this amusing and indeed a smile is permitted… But this is serious stuff.  What kind of world do we live in? Sure, this is Africa but similar atrocities exist worldwide.

A tear wells in my eye.

AIDS Documentary

It’s very clear up to this point why we haven’t seen or heard the men which are spoken of, and I begin to wonder if all the guys in this neck of the woods are cruel like this.

However, young men are soon shown to us.  Not only have these men no inclination to do such bad deeds they candidly and humorously (to us, the audience ) half-joke that those young offenders ‘prefer’ grannies.

Drugs are spoken of by these young men but also the old women – marihuana and meths (?) I believe is talked of.  It’s interesting too that when the lads discuss the reason for the rape being drug related they defend themselves by saying something along the lines of ‘yes but we do drugs, but never those bad deeds’.  Never a more poignant or world loving statement has been said in the name of respect for both drugs and how women should be treated.

Kung Fu Grannies

The most startling fact though is yet to be presented and it seems also the essential reason, or one of them that director Park wanted to make the film.

What’s that?

That… it’s rumored by some that by raping or plain sex with someone who does not have HIV will cure THEMSELVES of it!  Bizarre, inexplicable, unexplainable and unacceptable!

This film is extremely well shot and told.  I laughed very little due to its subject matter, however I got the feeling from the audience – and perhaps the Park [director] – that it’s OK to laugh.  That is, so long as the film’s main theme is not extinguished.

Kung Fu Documentary

A couple of points or items noticed & noted:

1) The music across the end titles is superb.

2) The irony on this day [of this LSFF Long(er) Docs collection] that in one scene a “Hula hooping” girl is seen, or at least in part, even perhaps, half off screen – “HULA GIRL” is a film also screened on this day.  A review of the latter film, and others will follow soon.


Trailer [Kung Fu Grand-achievement]

That’s all, Filks*!
OK… Not quite.  Seeing that you’ve been attentive and until the end, here’s a 4 minute [no Korean related pun intended – those of you who know K-Pop will probably understand that pun] clip, courtesy of the director herself!

* Filks.  A combination of Film and Folks.