Top directors tackle tough topics

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Top directors tackle tough topics

Armed with individual cameras, six acclaimed Korean directors have filmed a compilation movie on human rights, a project drawn up by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. The omnibus project consists of six, 10 to 20-minute long shorts each addressing different human rights issues.
The directors assigned to this project include Park Kwang-su, who is known for his movie, “The Uprising”; Yeo Kyun-dong, who directed “Out in the World,” and Park Chan-wook, whose film “Joint Security Area, attracted a wide Korean audience.
Other directors on the slate are Yim Soon-rye, who directed “Waikiki Brothers”; Jeong Jae-eun, who is famous for the movie “Take Care of my Cat”; and Park Jine-pyo, whose movie “To Young to Die” flared up nationwide controversy last year.
The films of these artists are not intended to enlighten their audiences, nor are they some propaganda movie for the human rights commission. The movies deal with problems of everyday Korean life, which anyone can be exposed to.
The first film, “Crossing,” concerns a disabled man on crutches hobbling along the streets of Sejongno, downtown Seoul.
The main character of the next tale, “The Man with an Affair,” is a former sex criminal who has been cut off by his neighbors. In “The Weight of Her,” a high school student must struggle to secure a job because of her undesirable appearance. In a similar vein, “Face Value” depicts work settings where job applicants are evaluated by their physical appearance
Korean parents’ extreme fervor for education is exposed in “Tongue Tie,” as a child undergoes a tongue operation to enhance his ability in spoken English. “Never Ending Peace and Love,” the finale of the omnibus movie, deals with a Nepalese woman who has spent six years in a mental hospital after she was mistakenly accused of losing her mind.
Each short film evokes different emotions. Some are comical, others are eerie, gloomy or even as serious as watching a documentary. It is apparent that the directors have planted their distinct styles into these movies. Each director received a 50 million won ($39,000) stipend from the human rights commission.
Yeo Kyun-dong, who directed “Crossing,” said the experience made him feel more connected to the disabled.
“Having an interest and connecting with them is different,” said Mr. Yeo. “Talking to handicapped people and working with them has broadened my views.”
The director hoped the film will reach the audience not in the form of enlightenment but in the form of understanding. As a result, he focused his story on hope. “The handicapped and human rights issue is so broad and there are a lot of hurdles that need to be overcome,” said Mr. Yeo. “But there is hope.”
The movie will be presented with English subtitles at the Jeonju Film Festival, held from April 25 to May 4.

by Lee Ho-jeong
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