Korean documentaries are more personal now: cinematographer

Hong Hyosook.

Hong Hyosook.  


The first question that anyone from South Korea, especially if that person is even remotely connected to films, is bound to face in Kerala will be on Kim Ki-duk, the film-maker who has a frenzied following here. So, when it was popped to documentary cinematographer Hong Hyosook, who is one of the documentary jury members at the Seventh International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK), towards the middle of an interview, her eyes widened and she burst out laughing.

“I am surprised that he has such a following here. Back home, he is not that popular. It is kind of 50-50, with only half the people loving him. Personally, I cannot take that amount of violence, but Spring, Summer… was a nice film. Among contemporary Korean film-makers, Bong Joon Ho is my favourite,” says Ms. Hyosook.

She thinks that the culture of openness and the lack of censorship in Korea could be one of the reasons why Kim’s films are not such a big deal in that country as they are here. But his films do have a huge influence on the younger generation, she says.

“Most young film-makers who get selected to the Asian Film Academy, the film-making education programme of the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), now want to make films like Kim,” she says, with a sense of disappointment.

She counts Lee Chang-Dong among the film-makers who inspired her to work in this field. Her cinematography work was mostly in the 1990s for documentaries such as ‘Doomealee, A new school is opening,’ ‘On-Line: An inside view of Korean independent film’ and ‘Reclaiming our names.’ Now, she is working as the curator of the ‘Wide angle’ section at the BIFF and the Director of the Asian Cinema Fund.

She says that there has been a very noticeable shift in the kind of documentaries coming out of her country now.

“In the earlier days, most of the documentaries were of the sloganeering kind. But now the films are more personal and try to explore the inner struggles of individuals,” says Ms. Hyosook.

But even with all the openness of South Korea, no mention of North Korea, be it in films or in public forums, is taken kindly. “You can get arrested!” she says.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 11:15:02 AM |

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