Jun 2016 VOL.62


  • Letter from Paris: PLUTO Director SHIN Su-won Reports on 8th FFCP
  • by SHIN Su-won / 11.29.2013
  • 'Rising filmmaker' Bears Witness to Korean Cinema Storming France
    Filmmaker SHIN Su-won of Pluto and Circle Line sent us a report on the 8th Paris Korean Film Festival held from October 29th to November 5th. She gave us close accounts of Korean cinema’s popularity in France.
    On November 1st, I was on a flight heading for Paris to attend the Paris Korean Film Festival (FFCP), which opened on October 29th. Several of my works including my first feature film Passerby #3 (2010), second film Pluto and two shorts: Circle Line and Shave (2003) were invited to the ‘portrait’ section which showcases earlier works of rising new filmmakers. I was very pleased by the idea of being considered a ‘rising new filmmaker.’ Finally, after a 12-hour flight, I arrived at Charles De Gaulle Airport. This was my first time back in Paris in 8 years.
    Festival president BAE Yong-jae and the festival volunteer responsible for transportation and film trafficking greeted me at the airport. I arrived at my hotel and went up to my assigned room which had a panoramic view looking over on downtown Paris. A bottle of complimentary wine was sitting on a table, momentarily tempting me to enjoy the nightlife unraveling beneath my window, but unfortunately I had brought a workload from Seoul, and there was no way I could turn this thought into reality.
    The festival, which used to be held in a run-down small-sized theater up until last year, relocated to a more upscale theater with a larger capacity and better facilities. The Art Director YOO Dong-suk was waiting for me at Publicis Cinemas, the festival’s main venue located in the center of Champs-Elysees. I became acquainted with him when he worked as my interpreter during last year’s Cannes Film Festival where my film Circle Line was invited to the Critics’ Week section. He told me a photo of Pluto was printed with a feature about the Paris Korean Film Festival in ‘Libération’ as he showed me the newspaper. I have to admit, filmmakers can be juvenile enough to be moved by such things.

    The next day, I attended the first screening of Pluto, which was more packed than I imagined. Some even had already seen Passerby #3 and Circle Line. Certain spectators commented that Pluto was quite frightening and were curious about how authentic the university entrance exam competition for high schoolers I depicted in my film was. I am always asked this question during Q&As. I explained that certain episodes were based on facts, but other situations such as the ‘rabbit hunt’ were fictitious. From the start, I stated that I had no intention of making this a realist film as I wanted to push everything to the extreme and added that if you were frightened, then you understood the film well.

    The following afternoon I met with Aurelie Godet, a programmer from the Locarno International Film festival programmer. She had already insisted to come see my film during a brief meeting in Busan when she found out that I was invited to the Paris Korean Film Festival. She told me she watched all four of my films. I was grateful to know that she came all the way here to see the films of a new filmmaker from East Asia who wasn’t even fluent in English. She told me about a Korean filmmaker she knew who couldn’t speak English at first, but gradually improved throughout the years and joked that I could improve my language skills if I work on an international co-production project.
    On the third day, there was a second screening of Pluto, but since no Q&A was scheduled, I stayed in my hotel room to get some work done until I had to go to the theater. At the theater, a ‘Meet the Director’ program offering a dialogue between the director and the audience was held with the participation of film critics Bastian Meiresonne and Nicolas Gilli, and Paris Korean Film Festival programmer David Tredler. The moderator Bastian Meiresonne presented analyses of my films after showing them to the audience.
    It has been a while since I’ve seen my short Shave, which I made a decade ago, and my debut feature Passerby #3. Thanks to this program, I was able to watch them again. The moderator asked me why I didn’t show my first short Sweeter than Candy (2002) to which I replied that although I did receive the request, I didn’t send the film as I was embarrassed by it. This short dealing with a commotion surrounding a porn video was my very first short film made on a budget of approximately USD 1500 while I was a student at the Korea National University of Arts (K’Arts). I commented that I personally like the film, but it was just too weak to be included in the program. When I added that if I happen to make a really good film one day, I want to show this short along with it to give hope to those who have made ‘flops,’ the audience bursted into laughter.
    The closing film was HONG Sangsoo’s Our Sunhi. The theater was packed, giving me a clear idea of HONG’s popularity here. I was once told that it is more helpful to invite a K-pop star to give a performance rather than showcasing Korean films when it comes to introducing the Korean Wave. Likewise, it is more effective to invite a commercial film with famous stars rather than inviting a low-budget independent film when it comes to promotion and raising public admissions. I couldn’t help but be slightly puzzled when I heard the festival wanted to invite an ‘unknown’ director like myself to their event. But I soon realized they had their own conviction of showing films as a respected piece of work whether it is commercial or independent. To the French audience who showed so much passion in film, the festival people and the many staff members who worked hard to introduce Korean cinema, I applaud and express my gratitude to each and every one of you.
    By SHIN Su-won(Filmmaker)
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