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Master Director Films 100th Movie

2007/04/04 | Permalink | Source

By Kim Tae-jong
Staff Reporter

Maestro filmmaker Im Kwon-taek has completed his 100th film, saying that he feels that he has just passed the most crucial turning point in his career.

"I hoped this film shows the wisdom of age, of a director who has made 100 films. It was not so easy, but I guess I have accomplished my mission as I finally completed the film and can now show it to those who have supported me", Im said Tuesday during a news conference at the Seoul Theater in Chongno, downtown Seoul after a preview screening of the movie, "Beyond the Years" (Chonnyonhak).

The 69-year-old director showed up at the theater wearing a neat suit and tie. He seemed nervous and excited right until the end of the conference, in which he answered questions from reporters in a humble manner.

He seemed to find the completion of the work even more meaningful not only because of its numerical significance but the hardships that he went through.

"At first, 100 meant nothing but a number to me, and I was going to make it without a fuss. But it became such a huge pressure because everybody was talking about its significance", Im said.

The film initially met a serious setback when the original investment and production company sudden pulled out, and he had to start all over again. The local industry was shocked to see that even a veteran filmmaker such as Im would run into money problems.

But many people showed their loyal support for the renowned director.

Many of actors and staff from "Seopyeonje" including lead actress Oh Jung-hae joined the film and popular actor Cho Jae-hyun expressed his willingness to be part of the film and took the main role.

The new film is a follow-up to his successful 1993 film "Seopyeonje", a story about singers of pansori, or Korean traditional music. It focuses on the love story of a brother and his stepsister from "Seopyeonje".

But despite the connection to "Seopyeonje", which centers on Korean traditional music, the director said he tried his best not to give the impression that the new film would be an inferior imitation. As part of his efforts, he worked with Korean-Japanese New Age pianist Yang Bang-ean as music director to give a different flavor to the score.

"If `Seopyeonje' attempted to show grief and sorrow through music, the new film tells a love story through music. I really wanted to step away from `Seopyeonje', and that's why I worked with Yang", Im said.

Im originally planed to make "Seopyeonje" by combining three stories _ "Seopyeonje", "Soriui Pit" (Light of Sound) and "Songhakdong Nagune" (Traveler in Songhak-dong) _ from a serialized, short novel collection "Namdo Saram" (People from the Southern Provinces) by Lee Jeong-joon.

But Im was only able to put two stories in the film, "Seopyeonje". Of the three, "Songhakdong Nagune" was put on hold and finally made into "Beyond the Years". The delay was largely attributed to technological limitations in illustrating the changing of times.

In the film, the director uses computer graphics to show how banks block the ocean and new roads are constructed as time passes by.

In its portrayal of love, Im takes a moderate and indirect way, which he describes as similar to a traditional Korean painting.

"I wanted to melt Korean's richness, excitement and taste in a pure and eternal love story. It's like I had created a traditional Korean painting", Im said.

In time with the release of his 100th film, he also expressed his concerns over the local film industry. He said that it is now in crisis because of the reduced screen quota.

"Without the protection of the screen quota, I would not be here now. My films don't have the trappings for commercial success, which most investors are interested in, and many of them wouldn't have been made", Im said.

The quota originally mandated theaters to show domestic movies for 146 days per year. The quota however was halved to 73 days last July by the government, which Im argued was to facilitate a free trade agreement with the United States.

The only solution to surmount the crisis is for filmmakers to make quality films, Im stressed.

"As the quota has been halved, local films will have no choice but to avoid competition with Hollywood films during lucrative seasons. Now we must make better quality films", he said.

"Beyond the Years" will be released nationwide on April 12.

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