Jun 2016 VOL.62


  • AHN Sun-kyoung, Director of PASCHA
  • by SONG Kyoung-won / 10.31.2013
  • Winner of New Currents of BIFF 2013
    Photo ⓒCine21 
    A love story of a teenager and a woman in her 40s, but not as typical as that tagline suggests. It does not illustrate a fight against the prejudice of the world, or an eccentric love story that you may expect from a couple with a 23 year age difference. Instead, Pascha features a man and a woman, who love and share their thoughts with each other, and live together their everyday quotidian life. They are sometimes happy and sometimes not, just like any other couples. AHN Sun-kyoung, the director of Pascha, the winner of New Currents (along with Remote Control) during the 18th Busan International Film Festival, grasps the landscape of the deep pains in life by illustrating the encounter of a rather unusual couple.
    Ahn began her directing career at the Theatre Troupe Georipae, which she originally joined as an actress. After directing a few plays and short films at Georipae, she trained herself at the Korean Academy of Film Arts and made her feature debut A Blind River in 2009, telling the story of an adopted boy in Australia who comes to Korea in search of his biological parents. It was inspired by Camus’ novel The Misunderstanding and invited to the competition section in the Zurich Film Festival. Pascha, her second feature film, was directed, adapted and produced by her.
    - Congratulations on Pascha’s great performance in the New Currents section at BIFF.

    It was just too good to be true. I of course hoped I would win, but now that it has really hapenned, I am very puzzled, but in a good way. It was my first ever visit to BIFF, not just as a director but even as a film viewer, and I was astonished by its sheer size. It was a great challenge and experiment for me to meet so many people and so many films at one single film event.

    - Do you not have much experience with film festivals? Your previous film A Blind River (2009) was in competition in the Zurich Film Festival. 

    Back then, there was no interpreter service available for me and I had no idea how things were going. I guess I just looked around here and there in the festival like a complete stranger. So when I was invited by BIFF, I was expecting something similar. However, this time, I was overwhelmed with the warm reception and attention, and had a great time, which I did not expect.
    I am also grateful for what BIFF did to help me find a distributor for the film. I got a lot of help and encouragement from so many people, which made me feel like I was not alone in the world.  
    - Did you have good experiences aside from your award?

    First of all, the audience I had for Pasha at BIFF was the biggest audience I’ve ever had in my life for any of my films. It was hardly hundreds of thousands but I was happy. I had a feeling the whole time that my films were too bleak and hard for people to understand, but as it turns out, they received Pasha very warmly. It was great to have the feeling of communication, and I was very much encouraged by the accepting audience, although it may have to do with them being a festival audience. (Laugh)  
    - Among many reviews, one of the most impressive for me was that it is a film bout enduring everyday quotidian life.

    I guess everybody has such periods in life, when you see nothing but dark and painful things. The hardest of all is that you have no idea when it will end. This film is ultimately about how to endure such times. At the same time, everybody comes across with moments when life becomes lighter for them. However, it does not result from an outside event. Rather, it has more to do with how your struggle in your mind gets lighter and your confusion is clarified. I will not exactly say hope, but I might say that painful circumstances do pass in the end.
    - Although the film has some scenes that can be disturbing, including one with abortion, many people told me they were consoled by the film.

    I think it is kind of like this. Am I the only one who is unhappy? No. If you look closely, everybody is unhappy in their own way. But a lot of people are not aware of this fact, and they just feel sorry for themselves. They just want to look away from their own unhappiness. However, you need to look in the eyes of your unhappiness even if you want to deny it. You have to go through the pain completely so that you can finally stand on your own feet again and move on. Everybody has their own dark moments in life, which eventually passe. What is important is that your attitude is not to look away, and you need courage not to look away.
    - As a film, directed, adopted and produced by you, it truly bears your mark.

    Since A Blind River, there was a time when I wanted to quit making films. Funding was hard, and I was stuck with the scenario. In March 2011, my cat, which was like a family member for me, died, and I didn’t know what to do with the body. I had a very strange kind of feeling, and I wrote the scenario within one week. With that scenario, I tried every producer that I knew but was turned down at every turn. They didn’t find it commercial enough, saying the story was too loose and ambiguous. I was worried that this story would just disappear, so I took out a bank loan and shot the film with my own money. 

    - It must have been hard.

    The other day, my mom finally found out about the loan and I was told off. It would have been a real disaster if I didn’t win the award. (laughs) I did what I could, and fit everything within the budget, which would only cover ten shooting days. The staff numbered less than ten people. I adjusted the scenario accordingly so that I could do with the bare minimum. Besides, most actors and actresses are from Georipae, who volunteered to work with me without being paid. Some of them said “yes” even before they read the scenario, showing great commitment and trust in my work.

    - Why were you compelled to make this film despite the hard times you faced?

    I wanted to show that you can make a film no matter circumstances you find yourself in, if you really want to. Pascha was a realistic project that I was able to come up with. What is important is not that you are making a film but that you are making a film that you really want to make. Of course I am happy for the award but what really makes me happy is that I have finally heard back from those who agree with my idea. It is like I finally received the approval to go and make films. I now have the courage to go on.
    By SONG Kyoung-won | Photo By OH Kye-ohk
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