Culture shock comedy shows linguistic woes

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Culture shock comedy shows linguistic woes

BUSAN - “One Day in Europe,” a German film directed by Hannes Stohr, impressed Korean viewers with an intriguing plot and a puzzling ending. Opening with people celebrating the European Champions League football final, the film reminded Korean viewers of their own enthusiastic experience back in the 2002 World Cup held here. But the film then diverges into four independent stories taking place on the same day in four different cities ― Moscow; Istanbul; Santiago de Compostela, Spain; and Berlin.
A common thread is that all involve the police of those cities, who react differently to people in need of help. Each incident comically unfolds with conversations between characters making no sense ― miscommunications caused by different languages and cultures.
Hannes Stohr, 35, who previously directed “Berlin is in Germany,” which won the Panorama Audience Award at the 2001 International Berlin Film Festival, explained his film in a simple, yet perplexing way.
“There is no special intention or message I want to carry through this film. Please think of me as a clown. This is a film that is meant to make you laugh.” To the bewildered audience, he continued, “All these Europeans with such different backgrounds live together using the same currency, but comically, they can never communicate with one another. The only thing Europeans understand together is soccer.”
When someone asked the director what the film’s genre was, Mr. Stohr playfully said, “It is a new genre called, Hannes’ culture shock comedy.” “Many languages including Spanish, Russian, English and German are spoken in the film, creating miscommunication, which I found to be very comical.”
As well as directing the movie, Mr. Stohr also wrote the screenplay, having studied scriptwriting and directing at the Deutsche Film und Fernsehakademie Berlin from 1995 to 2000. Before that, he studied European law.
Mr. Stohr said he once thought about making a similar film featuring Asian countries. “But I thought the film should be made by someone who understands Asia well enough. Maybe the director Kim Ki-duk could make it. A story about a single day’s experience of a Chinese guy in Taiwan or a Japanese person in Korea would be very interesting.”
He added that some parts of his film might have been difficult to understand for Korean viewers who may not know much about the relations between European countries. “For example, Germany and France are neighboring countries but their relationship is very complex. I think that that of Korea and Japan is not so simple, either.”
Mr. Stohr said he loves soccer and used to be a fan of former Korean soccer hero Cha Bum-kun. “ I think his son Cha Du-ri is quite good too,” he said to the delight of Koreans in the audience.

by Choi Sun-young
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