Another “Occupy Seoul” protest was held on Saturday, drawing “hundreds” across Seoul, including to Seoul Plaza in front of City Hall. But that rally was dwarfed by a much larger demonstration earlier in the day at Seoul Plaza, which featured an estimated 3,000 construction workers and temp workers…
“I say that the true artist-seer, the heavenly fool who can and does produce beauty, is mainly dazzled to death by his own scruples, the blinding shapes and colors of his own sacred human conscience.”—Seymour: an introduction by J.D. Salinger
BIFF 2011 Day 2 - Jesus Hospital a.k.a. Mink Coat 밍크코트
I haven’t seen too many Korean feature films this year (or ever.. let’s be honest) and this film that I just happened to watch totally by chance was one of the most powerful Korean films I’ve seen. I walked into the screening about 30 minutes into it and I didn’t know a thing about the film. I was asked at the last minute to interpret the GV after the screening.
That’s the thing about Busan. Other film fests usually ask me to do Q/As with filmmakers and actors and it’s great for me because I get to watch all the screeners and meet the people in person and, though brief, actually share my thoughts on their work and stuff. But Busan has been asking me to interpret press interviews for two years in a row, which are also nice because you don’t have a theater full of people staring at you and it’s very intimate and that’s when I get to meet really really famous people. (I interpreted an interview for Juliette Binoche last year and she was simply graceful.) But the thing is when doing press interviews, I’m always behind the scene of the festival and don’t get to watch ANY of the films. (AND they make the staff pay for the tickets if it’s not related to your work!) So although my day was supposed to end about 2:30pm, when they asked me to fill in for the Gest Visit session for 4:30 showing, I was more than happy to oblige.
It’s called Jesus Hospital in English. But in Korean, the title is Mink Coat, which is kind of an old-fashioned feminine symbol of wealth in this culture. Extreme Evangelicals meets euthanasia meets money. there you have it. It’s about a hardcore Christian family whose siblings are fighting over whether they should put their dying mother in a coma off of the respirator. Obviously, the movie is very heavy and the cinematography is mostly close-up and roughly edited, which I loved, but the themes of the movie are also very serious. Hypocrisy of people of religious faith and how their religious values nearly justifies their judgmental attitude, class issues, premarital pregnancy, euthanasia, mistrust and dishonesty between family members, and how money makes people do some twisted corrupt shit in desperate situations.
For a low-budget feature film, i thought it was one of the most powerful films that anyone that has a family can relate to. It could come off as a religious movie (or about extreme evangelical christians who literally pray in gibberish and stuff - i’m sure there’s a word for the gibberish praying but i can’t think of it now). But the film connects the religious hypocrisy to the real-life crises that can happen to anyone and shows how cunning, frivolous and easily corrupt a human will becomes when faced with seriously conflicting dilemmas involving money, misguided religious beliefs and having the choice of enabling death and life. ALL cast was simply BRILLIANT with their acting, especially the one who plays the main character, a middle-aged milk delivery woman who is looked down upon and constantly cheated by her siblings and has not much to live for except her pregnant daughter and gibberish prayers. The script, which was flawlessly written, was based on the real experience of one of the co-directors. The dialogues were truly raw revealing the rock bottoms of the human nature. I swear a lot of the audience really took it to their heart. I myself was bawling because I see so many families including mine go through similar disputes and dilemmas in reality. (minus the gibberish prayers in my family’s case.)
Anyway, I don’t wanna give away too much, but so far this is my pick of Korean feature film at BIFF 2011 this year. I wish I could post the poster here, but I couldn’t find any online and neither of the staff and actors were carrying a flyer so no scanning here, but I will try to mention it again in the future because this film will seriously make you think hard about the everyday dilemma involving family issues.
Busan International Film Festival a.k.a. BIFF Day 1 - KARMA: I must have done something right in the past because i'm feeling super lucky and grateful now
First of all, I understand they’re trying to follow the standardized romanization by changing the name of the city from Pusan to Busan, which is actually more accurate in terms of pronouncing the word. But, that turns the acronym for the festival from PIFF, which was kinda weird, to BIFF, which is even weirder to say it. I’m just saying.
So there’re not as generous as last year pay-wise(i’m assuming the budget cut was due to the addition of the new building where i’ll be working for the most part of my three day stay here). So I resorted to taking the subway to Haeundae Beach from KTX station, which I didn’t mind because taking a subway in a different city is always a cool experience. Anyway, Busan Metro is smaller in scale with only four lines and the stations of the line 1 was actually smaller in size (much lower ceiling!) than a typical metro stop in Seoul. I found it rather cute and quaint. The line 2, which goes to Haeundae, was actually much newer. Anyway, I had to walk about 10 minutes to get to my hotel and it was already dark (around 6:20pm!) so with carrying all my bags, finding my way to the hotel was a bit of work.
BTW, I literally passed AT LEAST 40 love motels on the way to the Hotel. (i say it without exaggeration because i was actually counting) Haeundae man.. i guess it is the place to get your freak on…
Anyway, back to the story, I got a phone call from one of the BIFF staff(doesn’t that sound funny to you??) on the way to the hotel and I was a bit frustrated because I thought I was lost and the staff was no help in directing me. After a bit of asking around I finally found the place and checked in and I’m just kinda lying down trying to unwind and relax a bit. About 20 min. later, I get a phone call - Busan area code. I thought it was the BIFF calling about tmrw’s schedule and stuff so i picked it up and it was a foreigner woman speaking in English with an accent. She said she picked up my wallet on the street and wanted to give it back to me. At first I thought it was some sort of scam because I was sure I had my wallet in my bagpack, where I looked only to find everything but my wallet. While on the phone with the staff with my bags slipping off my shoulders, all frazzled and lost, I must’ve dropped it and didn’t realize it. I thanked her a million times and went to her hotel lobby to meet her. She turned out to be a producer/director from the Philippines and was here with her husband, also a director and an editor, to promote a film he directed and she produced called Amok
I took them out to dinner and we were talking about this and that. lovely people. I find people who are in the production side of the film industry generally really chill and down to earth. Anyway, it turned out they were taking a little walk around the area, the beach and other venues and whatnot and went into small streets and ended up getting lost, which was when they saw my wallet. There was a man walking ahead of them and the man didn’t see the wallet. But the producer lady saw it and her husband, having missed it also, nearly stepped on it he said. They looked through my wallet, in which I had my business cards and since they didn’t have a local cell, they went through the trouble of asking their hotel front desk to make a call to return it to me.
So, Lawrence and Krisma Fajardo. Thanks for getting lost (karma baby!) and thank you thank you thank you for making the effort to return my wallet and thank you for being wonderful company for dinner and thank you for keeping me hopeful and optimistic about this world where there are people who are nice and civil enough to not take the things that are not theirs. It was my pleasure to treat you with a nice dinner, which was the least I could do. If I had lost the wallet, I would’ve been so royally screwed especially when I’m on a biz trip and you guys totally saved me a world of trouble.
Go see their film if u get a chance. Here is the poster and a link to the review. If you’re at BIFF (burrr..), you can catch the showings on the 12th(10AM) and 13(4PM).
a random mail that i just "happened" to run into...
It turned out it’s a thank you letter for attending a funeral for this man’s father. The reason I opened it was because it was clearly directed to a specific person and yet it was not sealed and the letter was sitting there for like days. there was another envelop that looked exactly the same and I didn’t see much harm in opening a mail that’s got a duplicate right next to it. i guess i kinda feel bad for taking someone’s mail (abandoned if i may remind u again), but the content was so sincere and now i know what kinda expressions to use for a thank-u-for-attending-my-parent’s-funeral letters. a future reference.