Jun 2016 VOL.62


  • [FACE] Berlinale’s Shorts Competition, HOSANNA by NA Young-kil
  • by NA Won-jung / 02.23.2015
  • A Rising Director Recognized by Clermont-Ferrand and Berlin

    The only Korean film in competition program at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival is NA Young-kil’s short film, Hosanna, the thesis film from Korea National University of Arts’ School of Film, TV & Multimedia program. After winning the Shorts Special Jury Award at the 15th Jeonju International Film Festival, Hosanna went to Mise-en-scene Short Film Festival, Seoul Independent Film Festival as well as international competition section of France’s Clermont-Ferrand. KoBiz met with director NA Young-kil of Hosanna just before his third screening on February 11th in Berlin.
    Congratulations on being invited to the Berlin International Film Festival.
    Actually, I still can’t believe it. After being programmed at Clermont-Ferrand, I was working on a film as a staff when I heard the news about Berlin’s competition section. I’m happy to be here, but still a little dumbfound.
    Hosanna is about a boy with special healing powers and adults who continue to live violent lives. How did you come up with the story?
    It’s a subject matter I was interested in since I was young. Before I went to film school, I studied Christianity, and it took a huge place in my heart. My father is a pastor and as I was growing up, they lived in a world where I was not able to understand. I also had to fight with my god. I felt like I was chased away of the Christianity and through making films I wanted to twist the idea of salvation. Perhaps it’s a resistance towards Christianity and beliefs. For example, I was asking, why do we have to be saved? What is salvation for? I felt that the providence of god was violent.
    The god in Hosanna is a boy who doesn’t even realize what healing means and blindly continues to heal and resurrect others.
    Even god himself gets strained by the repetitiveness of the healing and gets tired from the process. To me, Shiva is more attractive than Christ. it’s not because they have a clear academic knowledge, but I was encapsulated by their attitude towards the religion and the way of living. Shiva god is not someone you can understand. With its many arms, it can kill people, but no one in the religion wonders about the unfairness of the event and accepts it as fate. It’s the attitude of the life of Sisyphus. We should live on and accept fate as fate and try our best on things we can change.
    One character that stands out in Hosanna is Jin, who repeatedly commits suicide. Why does he say that we must accept fate and tries to kill himself?
    I want to ask the opposite question. Why must we live? At least Jin is someone who has clear commitment to suicide. Everyone else is relying on the boy’s special powers in a sort of a cult-like way, while Jin provocatively castrates himself or hangs himself to get out of the repetitive life. To me, he’s the only one trying his best. Christianity itself tells you that your true self can only be found upon death through heaven or hell. It’s a weird concept as blessing can only be found upon escape from the physical body.
    After your screening in Jeonju, you have met French and German audiences. How do the reception compare? A German audience commented that your film is cruel.
    The reception from Clermont-Ferrand and Berlin are quite similar. France audiences had a hard time watching the scene where the mother of the boy throws up in bed. Perhaps we Koreans are more accustomed to such pain. Even in Berlin, one audience asked why I made such a violent film and said it upset him, and asked why Korean films in general are violent. I think violence in film is a part of life. It’s the reason we’re serious about our bodies. I understand that if the person watching did not realize this film was violent due to it being a part of a shorts program with several films, but the question was hard to answer when they asked me why it’s violent. I’ll take such response into consideration for my future films.
    How did you explain to the German audiences?
    Isn’t it the pathetic nature of our physical bodies that seek for a miracle? Sometimes I feel like we become pathetic in order to receive salvation from religion or the arts. In order to show this idea that miracles are meaningless, I had to make sure to show bluntly how the physical body is pitiful. I’m not sure if my answer was translated well by the interpreter. Also there’s pressure on me with the increased number of audiences here compared to domestic festival screenings. In Clermont-Ferrand, there were about 1000 people, and in Berlin, there were also a few hundred in the house. The screenings told me that there are diverse audiences and even the smallest response can add up to larger sounds.

    There was a lot of interest in your main cast, JI Hae-chan.
    This is a question I get asked in every festival. I was looking for a young boy for the role and I saw him in one of our staff member’s shorts. The boy’s father is also an actor so I sent them the scenario and waited for their approval. When Hae-chan isn’t speaking, he has very strong eyes. When I told him about the concept of the film, he said, “It sounds like fun.” In order to emphasize emptiness, I asked him if he could shave his head, but as he was about to start his first year of high school and decline. It’s too bad.
    Will your next film also be as intense as Hosanna?
    If it works out, I might finish a feature this year. But first, I’m shooting a short before summer is here about the revenge of a father who lost his son. There will be a god that appears and talks about forgiveness, while there is no room for forgiveness in the character’s heart. In that point of view, there are some similarities with Hosanna.
    The results of the competition films will be announced the day before the closing. What will you be doing until then?
    I’ll be checking the sound of Hosanna. The same problem happened in Clermont-Ferrand where the sound was too low. It’s hard to focus on the film if the sound mix is too low, and it bothers me as a director. Other than festival commitments, I want to watch other films. I want to watch the documentary on Kurt Cobain, and also KIM Dae-hwan’s End of Winter. I heard it’ll release in Korea but it would be more memorable to watch it in Berlin.
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