MOVING ON Director YUN Dan-bi
Dec 30, 2019
- Writerby KIM Su-bin
“I hope my film brings comfort to the audience.”
Moving On follows two young siblings sent for a summer vacation to their grandfather’s house but also relates to the return of two middle-aged brother and sister to their father’s home. As the situations depicted in the movie stir up universal memories, Moving On picked up four prizes, including the NETPAC Award, at the Busan International Film Festival and won the New Choice Award at the Seoul Independent Film Festival. We met with YUN Dan-bi to talk about her debut feature, a film that “captures cinematic moments that are hard to explain with words”, as the Seoul Independent Film Festival Jury noted.
I heard it was initially a black comedy. Why this change in the film’s atmosphere?
The film was about a family who wanted somehow to use their grandfather’s property and live there. Now that I think about it, it was similar to BONG Joon-ho’s PARASITE. There was even a scene in which they were selling the grandfather’s ornamental stones. But I kept feeling compassionate towards this family. Rather than sugar-coating it, I wanted to keep it sincere, so I changed the scenario. Instead of picturing big events, I tried to imbue a really honest mood. I thought it would be nice if it gave the feeling of visiting someone else’s house.
The old two-story house with its vegetable garden is the main set of the film. In the movie, the house has as much presence as the characters. Could you tell us more about the process behind finding the house and changing the scenario to fit the space?
I wanted the image of this house to linger in people’s minds. I repeatedly used images of the siblings sitting in front of the supermarket or of the gate where Byeong-gi’s car is parked. I wanted the structure of the house to be well seen, so I thought about the characters’ movements a lot. There was no art team apart from that. I imagined it would be great if it was a real home, so I visited this old house in Incheon and started shooting but it was difficult. I realized it would be better to fix the scenario to match the tone rather than to artificially change the state of the house. The scene where they eat at the sewing machine was also readjusted after looking at the space.
The old house, as well as props like the mosquito net, the sewing machine and the stereo, naturally reminds us of the past. In one interview, you said “I want people to be reminded of their own memories and experiences.” What do you mean by that?
Rather than purposely using items from the past, I ended up fixing the scenario after looking at what was actually in the house. As a result, this feeling of the past ended up being diffused. Nostalgia seems to have come from the intention of using these various objects and the desire to stir up memories of the past.
The movie is about two pairs of siblings. In addition to each character’s personality, the harmony between them must have been thought through. What do you care most about when setting up your characters?
I did not want the characters to be stereotypes. I wanted to break the typically assigned personalities of ‘the young brother’ and ‘the older sister’ and the same goes for the character of the aunt. Not having a mother in the house, you would think that the aunt would take on the mother’s role but I portrayed her to be more of a friend to the kids and a younger sister opening up to her older brother Byeong-gi. In order to create these characters, I avoided judging them.
Instead of revealing elements of the characters’ past or trying to get close to their inner workings, the story is told from Ok-ju’s perspective. Was it a deliberate production point to maintain a certain distance between the characters?
I thought it would be better to explain the two siblings’ characters through showing their relationship rather than with words. As for the camera’s placement, I avoided close-ups as much as possible. Except for a few instances, such as when Ok-ju comes down on her bike or the watching of the grandfather’s seat, I kept a distance.
Why did you set SHIN Jung-hyun’s song “Miryun” as the main theme song?
I liked the lyrics. They seemed to be the kind of lyrics that would emerge after the departure of an elder. More than the grandfather, it also felt like a good representation of Ok-ju’s feelings. When the grandfather would reflect on his life, it seemed like a song that would create an emotion.
What motivated you to make a movie?
I went to high school in Gwangju but I felt strangely isolated. Around that time, I saw Yasujiro OZU’s film Good Morning and it felt like this person knew me, like he was a friend. I wanted to belong to this world, to step inside it. As I made my movie, I hoped that I would also become a friend to someone.
How was working on a feature film scenario?
As it was my first time writing a feature film, I think I was a bit lost. Aren’t independent films mainly inspired by incidents or events these days? At first, I thought ‘Will the audience respond to my film if I don’t follow this trend?’ but I quickly changed my mind. I just focused on making a movie I would like, and I worked the way I wanted to.
What kind of movie did you wish to leave the audience with?
The film was first screened at the Busan International Film Festival but there was still a chance it could not live on after the festival. Even if it had someday to be brought back from the dead, I just hoped for the movie to be good. Rather than a story I should be telling, I wanted it to be a timeless film. However, the response in Busan ended up being better than what I had imagined, and I realized my sincerity had been conveyed. I want my movie to soothe the past. I hope I can become a friend to the audience.