Promo poster used in festivals
|Directed by||Larry Clark|
|Produced by||Kees Kasander|
|Written by||Larry Clark|
|Editing by||Andrew Hafitz|
|Distributed by||Vitagraph Films|
|Release date(s)||August 31, 2002|
|Running time||96 minutes|
The film revolves around the abusive and/or dysfunctional home lives of several teenagers, set in the city of Visalia, California.
PlotThe opening of the film depicts teenager Ken Park (nicknamed "krap nek") skateboarding across Visalia. He arrives at a skate park, where he casually sits in the middle of it, sets up a camcorder, and shoots himself in the head using a handgun. His death is used to set up the rest of the film, which follows four other teens he used to hang out with, shortly afterward the suicide:
Shawn: The most stable of the four main characters, Shawn has an ongoing sexual relationship with his girlfriend's mother Rhonda throughout the story. He casually socializes with their family, who (including his girlfriend) are completely unaware of the situation.
Claude: A teen who is largely at the mercy of his violent, alcoholic father, Claude tries to take care of his pregnant mother. His father despises him for being insufficiently manly, but after coming home drunk one night, attempts to perform oral sex on him, and Claude runs away from home.
Peaches: She is a sweet girl living alone with her extremely religious father, who fixates on her as the embodiment of her deceased mother. When her father catches her having sex with her boyfriend, he beats the boy and savagely disciplines her, including forcing her to participate in a quasi-incestuous wedding ritual with him.
Tate: Sadistic and unstable, Tate lives with his grandparents whom he frequently verbally abuses, and is shown engaging in autoerotic asphyxiation to orgasm. He later murders his grandparents in their bed, in retaliation for his grandfather "cheating" at Scrabble and his grandmother for "invading his privacy"; the act arouses him sexually.
The film cuts frequently between subplots, with no overlap of characters or events from one subplot to another until the end. As Tate is being arrested, Shawn, Claude, and Peaches meet and have sex as a threesome. The film finally reveals the motive behind Ken Park's suicide: He had impregnated his girlfriend, who responded to his suggestion of abortion by asking if he regretted his mother not aborting him. Concluding that he did, he skates off to kill himself.
- Adam Chubbuck as Ken Park
- James Bullard as Shawn
- James Ransone as Tate
- Stephen Jasso as Claude
- Tiffany Limos as Peaches
- Eddie Daniels as Shawn's Mother
- Seth Gray as Shawn's Brother
- Maeve Quinlan as Rhonda
- Bill Fagerbakke as Bob
- Patricia Place as Tate's Grandmother
- Amanda Plummer as Claude's Mother
- Wade Williams as Claude's Father
- Julio Oscar Mochoso as Peaches' Father
- Zara McDowell as Zoe
- Richard Riehle as Murph
- Larry Clark as Hot dog vendor
ProductionClark attempted to write the first script for Ken Park, basing it on personal experiences and people with whom he had grown up. Dissatisfied with his own draft, he hired Harmony Korine to pen the screenplay. Clark ultimately used most of Korine's script, but rewrote the ending.
The film was given a $1.3 million budget. The arrangement was to film using digital video, but Clark and Lachman used 35mm film instead.
ThemesThe film depicts controversial topics such as masturbation, incest, teenage suicide and, to a lesser extent, murder. The title "Ken Park" refers to a character in the film, whose death is used as a plot device at the end of the film. Although never directly stated, Ken Park appears to be set over several days, spanning Friday to Sunday. The plot of Ken Park is non-linear, and often switches between different characters over this time period.
DistributionAlthough it was sold for distribution to some 30 countries, the film has not seen wide distribution in many, due largely to its explicit sexual content involving characters that are minors.
AustraliaIn Australia, the film was banned for its graphic sexual content and "sexual content involving minors" which is a federal offense in Australia. In response to the ban, a number of protest screenings were held across Australia, at least one of which, attended by Australian film critic Margaret Pomeranz, was shut down by the police. In most capital cities, free underground screenings were held with the information about their location being shared via text the night before. On June 6, 2003, Re-classification of this film was unsuccessful after it was rejected once again by the Australian Classification Board.
FranceIn France, the film was first found unsuitable for children younger than 16. After reevaluation, it was later classified as forbidden for those under 18; as a result, the film was withdrawn from wide release.
BelgiumIn Belgium, the film was not distributed in theatres. In July 2011 it was shown at 8:30pm on JIM, a Flemish television channel aimed at people aged between 15 and 24. The channel was later fined 12.500 EUR by the Flemish media regulator (VRM) for showing the film unscrambled and too early in the evening.
New ZealandIn New Zealand, the film was classified R18 and limited to film festival screenings or viewing for a tertiary film studies course.
United KingdomThe film was not shown in the United Kingdom after director Larry Clark assaulted Hamish McAlpine, the head of the UK distributor for the film, Metro Tartan. Clark is alleged to have been angry over McAlpine's remarks about 9/11. Clark was arrested and spent several hours in custody, and McAlpine was left with a broken face.
United StatesThe film has not been released in the United States since its initial showing at the Telluride Film Festival in 2002. Clark says that this is because of the producer's failure to get copyright releases for the music used.
MalaysiaThe film has been banned outright in Malaysia since 2005.
- Ken Park at the Internet Movie Database
- Inside Film Magazine's Phillip Cenere reports on Australian ban of Ken Park
- Ken Park @ Harmony-Korine.com