Jun 2016 VOL.62


  • by LEESONG Hee-il / 02.28.2014
  • Filmmaker Attends Berlinale with New Film
    Filmmaker LEESONG Hee-il, who was invited to the 64th Berlin International Film Festival’s Panorama Section with Night Flight, writes about his festival experience in an essay he sent to us which is as humorous and biting as the sharp social critique embedded in his dramas.
    My third Berlin
    As a person whose life has always taken an unpredictable track that strayed away from the social culture of film festivals, this festival was more of an ‘excursion’ under the guise of festival attendance for me. Others seem to keep themselves busy as honey bees, seeking out other filmmakers’ works, but I prefer venturing outside to explore a foreign city as soon as I can toss my luggage in my hotel room.
     “I mean, when would a poor Korean unable to pay his rent on time have the chance to travel overseas if it weren’t for film festival invites?” Especially since spontaneously walking through an unfamiliar place can give one the opportunity to absorb the rich details of life firsthand unlike the indirect experiences acquired through films. To me, ‘covering a film festival’ just means to act like some pervert from South Korea caressing the tender, intimate flesh of the city, sniffing each corner as I stroll through the streets. 
    This is my third time at the Berlin International Film Festival. And because this trip is a back-to-back invite from last year’s White Night, it was more of a sense of familiarity than trepidation that ran through me. Having rummaged through every detail of the city during my two previous trips to Berlin may have been the reason for my slight apathy. Nevertheless, Berlin is the most affordable place in Europe. This time, as soon as I threw my luggage aside in my hotel room, I rushed to the supermarket. I couldn’t help myself from starting my Berlin trip by being tacky enough to purchase wine and beer, which were cheaper than water, and stock them up in my hotel room bar.
    Q&As with new actors

    Unlike the composure I displayed, the actors of my film, KWAK Si-yang and LEE Jae-joon, seemed a bit nervous. Facing the World Premiere of our film, they were struggling with dry mouths. But who wouldn’t be when it is their first film as actors and the very first screening that was not being held on their own turf? Furthermore, they had to introduce themselves in front of a crowd of hundreds and participate in Q&As. How could it not be a nerve-racking experience for them? One even commented that “this makes me more nervous than shooting a film.”
    However, apart from the anxiety-ridden faces of both novice actors, my producer KIM Il-kwon and I were also stressing over the final cut to meet the screening schedule at Berlin. With the tight festival deadline to deliver the film after wrapping up the film shoot, we were not able to complete our sound mix. Unfortunately, I caught various minute errors that kept me sweating throughout the official screening. Thankfully the audience didn’t seem to catch these mistakes. When the response seemed better than my previous two films, I finally let out a sigh of relief. Seeing the long line of people waiting to get an autograph from my two main actors after the premiere screening, it was a good decision to cast actor who are better looking and taller than myself, and I should continue to keep that in mind for future projects.
    Attending the ‘Korean Film Night’

    There’s nothing particularly special about my film festival schedule: two screening introductions and Q&As, a few interviews and various parties held each night. If the director decides not to go to the screenings, then there's more time on their hands. I became the tour guide for actor LEE Jae-joon who wanted to explore Berlin, and during my free time I depleted the wine I stocked up in my hotel room and let myself catch up on the sleep I missed from speeding through post-production.

    During the festival, I attended a small gathering hosted by the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), as well as the 'Korean Film Night' event organized by the Korean Film Council(KOFIC). Frankly speaking, the party isn’t as fun as the other ones hosted by other countries. Of course, I’m grateful for the food, the drinks and that they congratulated Korean filmmakers invited to the festival, but if there was one request I could make, it would be that I wished this party would be as informal and carefree as the ones hosted by other countries. Our group decided to escape the party and satisfy our hungry stomachs by spending our last night in Berlin somewhere else.
    Friendships made in Berlin

    Ye-lim is a Korean overseas student who escorted us throughout our hotel check out and airport trip. I felt bad that Jin-sa, who helped out at the Market booth, couldn’t join us due to work. Since last year, the Korean Cultural Center in Germany has been organizing Berlin Film Festival events in collaboration with KOFIC, and it’s the Korean overseas students who assist us. Through the frequent trips to the Berlin Film Festival, I’ve become acquainted enough with Korean overseas students and translators to recognize and keep in contact with them. There is even a translator I worked with three times whose family I can tell by their faces. I am grateful to those who spared their time to come see my films and those who took good care of me so that I did not feel out of place in a foreign country. I have to admit though that my rather carefree nature to ask Koreans living abroad and Korean overseas students to ‘join me for a drink outside the theater’ contributed to friendships I accumulated throughout the festivals. Lending an ear to voices of nostalgia from living away from home is another fun aspect about travelling. Like this I have added more friendships, all of which I’d like to thank through this essay. As I write, I am enjoying the chocolate Ye-lim gave me at the airport.
    By LEESONG Hee-il(Filmmaker)
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