On April 28th, I had the chance to attend the Guest Visit with Kim Ji-gon, the director of "Grandma-Cement Garden". He had a lot to say about his rather unconventional film about a neighborhood in Busan soon to undergo demolition.
Q: What does the movie mean to you?
A: It represents a state of transition. Really, from the minute we arrived there that's what it had to be. This was a very different Busan since the last time I had been there.
Q: What did you see in the grandmothers?
A: At first I was just waiting for something to happen. But after talking with the grandmothers some I realized that it was my connection to this place that mattered, and the grandmothers were the clearest living proof of what this place used to be.
Q: What sort of growth did you see from them?
A: I saw the grandmothers as just being the area, so that's why after their last line the movie's sound just cuts out.
Q: How much were you surprised to learn?
A: A lot- everyone we meet in this movie has a really sharp, biting wit. They were pretty blunt about the way the move was affecting their lives, home, and finances.
Q: What was the relevance of how you were always feeding each other?
A: No one we met was willing to pay us with money. It was always about meeting, socializing, eating, and drinking.
Q: What's the relevance of sound appearing and disappearing?
A: There was no deliberate metaphor. It was just supposed to reflect a general mood.
Q: I'm curious about the issue of the grandmas' slowly disappearing relevance to the house and countryside. As the documentary went on I didn't fully understand how they survived.
A: They were able to get around using public transportation. We were limited by our filming schedule with how much we could actually show. But the film is mainly motivated by the neighborhood reconstruction and our own realization of how this important part of our past would be gone forever.
Q: How were the political opinions solicited?
A: They came from conversations about the cement.
Q: Why the cement garden?
A: It represents hope in hopelessness, and it's also mentioned in Korean poetry as an effective metaphor.
Q: Why does it change for people?
A: The grandmas taught me to think of that.
One of the grandmothers in the film attended the screening, but I could not tell which one it was. Kim Ji-gon thanked us for coming, and we all went on our way.
Report by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema at JIFF] Q&A with director Kim Ji-Gon of "Grandma Cement Garden""
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