Documentaries Have No Home, Director Laments

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Documentaries Have No Home, Director Laments

"It does not make sense that there is no venue for a well-made documentary film to be shown. Even though the Korean movie industry is rapidly growing, there is still not enough support for independent filmmakers here. It seems that developed countries are more active in producing documentary films," says director Kim So-young, 32, who produced Korea's first 35 mm documentary film, "Sky Blue Hometown."

Ms. Kim recently held two previews of her film for critics. The showings were not easy to organize because of the general lack of interest in documentary films.

But Ms. Kim has been working hard to attract attention not only to her documentary, but to independent films in general.

"Sky Blue Hometown" depicts the history of Koreans living in Central Asia. The time period dealt with is from 1937, when Stalin activated his migration policy, to the present.

The documentary focuses on the life of Shin Sun-nam, an artist who held an exhibition at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Gwacheon in 1997. It also contains narration by actual Korean-Russians.

The documentary, which took four years to complete, has been praised by critics, paving the way for future documentary filmmaking in Korea. The film won the Best Picture award at this year's Pusan International Film Festival and the Grand Prix honor at the Seoul Documentary Video and Film Festival.

"Sky Blue Hometown," despite its critical success, has yet to confirm a release date, and may not open to the mainstream public.

"If I had stored all the tears I shed making and promoting the film, the bucket would be overflowing. But the problems I have are nothing compared to the hardships the Korean-Russians went through," says Ms. Kim.

While "Sky Blue Hometown" is not the first work to deal with the subject of the Korean community in Russia, the film departs from the usual opinionated coverage and focuses on the thoughts and views of the expatriates themselves, giving them a chance to tell their own story.

by Park Jeong-ho

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