Jun 2016 VOL.62


  • Darcy PAQUET, Director of the Wildflower Film Awards Korea
  • by KIM Su-yeon  / 03.31.2015
  • “I want Korean independent films to be watched by more”
    Darcy PAQUET is one of the most active promoters of Korean cinema in the world. He has been the Korean film critic for Screen International along with working as the Korean film consultant for the Udine Far East Film Festival and the San Sebastian Film Festival. PAQUET has written and edited English subtitles of about 150 Korean films including The Host, a BONG Joon-ho film. He even published about Korean films and took the initiative in exposing Korean cinema to the world, recently taking part in films as an actor in The Taste of Money and Almost Che. Last year, PAQUET even established a film award ceremony for Korean independent filmmakers. The event is the Wildflower Film Awards Korea. PAQUET is the director of the event and heads the organizing committee. This program was created to put creative and artistic independent Korean films in the spotlight and make them more known just like the Independent Spirit Award in U.S. and the British Independent Film Awards in U.K. We had an interview with PAQUET who was very busy preparing for the second Wildflower Film Awards Korea, which is to be held on April 9th.
    Wildflower Film Awards Korea will be held for the second time this year. How do you feel?
    It was a real challenge to organize the first awards ceremony. It was much harder than what I expected. But our pains and efforts were rewarded with good responses. Filmmakers around me told me that it is important to steadily maintain and run this kind of film award event. With their strong support, my goal is to keep this program running for years to come. History matters to this kind of film award program, I think. Only time will tell, but I am sure this program will become a very meaningful awards event.
    What made you decide to found the Wildflower Film Awards Korea?
    The idea hit me when I was a columnist for a media company five years ago. In it, I expressed my wish to see a film award ceremony to honor the value of Korea’s independent films. But even after writing the column, the idea would not escape from me. So I began to move forward with it myself.

    How did Korean filmmakers react to you when they heard that you, a foreigner, will start a film award program for Korean independent films?
    Some said that they were ashamed that Korean filmmakers were unable to initiate such an event in advance. However, I don’t think it’s shameful. Many people around me supported me greatly. As I am a foreigner, I faced many challenges in running the event. On the contrary, because I am a foreigner, the Korean film world accepted my project without any prejudice. Their help and support empower me to run the program. In particular, OH Dong-jin, chairman of the steering committee, was very helpful from our inaugural awards. Moreover, producers and directors made contributions to the program. Through this interview, I would like to express my gratitude towards them.
    We understand that you are engaging a funding project to run the event.
    Yes. The total budget of the event is 30 million won which is the goal of our funding project.
    This budget was only possible due to the hardworking volunteers. The aforementioned support from the Korean film industry was received through the funding project Funding 21(www.funding21.com). Among major Korean film studios, Showbox sponsored our award program through it. We always welcome support from those who love Korean films, in particular, Korean independent films.
    In an interview during the first Wildflower Film Awards Korea, you said that you will give prize money to the winners if you have enough budget. Will the goal be reachable this year?
    That is the real goal, but unfortunately, it will be difficult this year. However, we’re in discussion about financing the event for next year. In the third event, I want to give prize money to the winners whatever it takes.

    I heard that for Wildflower Film Awards Korea, the committee members are composed of professional film experts and regular audiences who select nominations and the winners.
    Korean movies that were released last year and have spent less than 1 million Korean won for the production cost are all eligible. Since the first Wildflower Film Awards, 25 audience evaluators who love Korean independent films have gathered to watch new Korean independent films together and to post reviews online. There are foreigners, Koreans, ordinary audience members, and professional movie critics. The evaluators’ standard is very simple. They should be passionate people who love and watch Korean movies often more than anything else. Among Korean independent films that came out last year, there were 60 narrative films and 30 documentaries. Through the audience evaluators of Wildflower Film Awards, all together we were able to cover all releases. I also continue to watch the works with the evaluators. The nominations are selected through the committee who has watched Korean independent films and the finalists are selected by votes from the audience evaluators and professional advisors. 21 movies were nominated for awards this year.

    The nine categories from last year were expanded to ten sections this year. What are some of the changes you’ve made?
    There wasn’t a scenario award in the first year so it was newly established this year. The best new actor or actress award was divided into two according to gender. Not only that, the best director award is now divided into narrative film and documentary film sections as the main award category. Then of course, there is the overall grand prize. Starting from the 2nd award ceremony onwards, we plan to keep this format.

    I heard that Wildflower Film Awards hosts film screenings of the nominated and publish related booklets before the award ceremony.
    Booklets on independent movies can be purchased at the screening that is held before the Wildflower Film Awards and from small bookstores that sell indie magazines. In fact, one of the most memorable events while preparing for Wildflower Film Awards last year was the screenings. To be honest, movies played through the screening event of Wildflower Film Awards were not new and were released last year, and can be watched at home in a sensible way. Yet, I was deeply impressed by the audiences who came to the theater in person to watch and support independent films they like and even paid close attention to Q&A’s with the directors. I really appreciated the directors who willingly attended the screenings despite their busy schedules.

    I heard that you also want to hold such screenings overseas. What are your future plans like?
    I want to hold a special screening to show award-winning movies abroad. I am currently proposing this to overseas film festivals. I am consulting for Udine Far East Film Festival, where many film-related books can be purchased. When I go to the film festival this year, I plan on bringing the books made by the Wildflower Film Awards, and present them to overseas film professionals.

    Are you interested in directing, production, and overseas distribution of Korean movies?
    I think it will be difficult to work on another project because I have so much on my plate at this point (laughter). I want to write a Korean movie scenario one day, and I am also interested in distributing Korean movies overseas. There are already many existing companies who focus on overseas movie distribution with strong business, but it is still too vague to distribute and screen classical Korean movies overseas. While Japan has many well-established, big companies like Shochiku and Toei that have remained strong for a long time, studios that have the copyright to classical Korean movies no longer exist, so it is too hard to contact them. Even if we find the companies with the copyrights, they do not want their films to be played or distributed overseas. I want to challenge myself to this work one day because it is very meaningful besides making money.

    What position do you hope Wildflower Film Awards to have in the Korean movie industry?
    It will be much easier to manage and run the film awards if there is a large corporation as a sponsor, but I personally don’t want Wildflower Film Awards to grow too big. If this happens, our event’s spirit might get tarnished. I am going to constantly think about this part from now on. Also, I hope Wildflower Film Awards becomes a movie award with special attention in the Korean movie industry unlike other film awards. I hope Korean independent films have opportunity to communicate with audiences and that more people will love them through the Wildflower Film Awards.
    Photographed by KIM Do-hoon
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