Fan Bingbing (below).
Saving Private Ryan, but not The Thin Red Line.
AMC Empire 25, and at City Cinemas' Beekman and Village East Cinema -- as well as in New Jersey at the AMC Loews Ridgefield Park 12.
Right! Right! (says the translator, who then chuckles).
Is there a question in there?
Sorry: Let’s see if I can phrase things like a question. (I think for a moment) Well, my big question -- and because I am over 70 and you might be 15 or 20 years younger, this may be unfair – but going back to Tae Guk Gi: What would have happened if Korea had not been separated. It seems like such a waste, such a stupid -- sorry, I’m not even Korean so I have no right to judge. But it still seems like a stupid waste to me. And what has come out of it, even worse.
The translator asks: You mean perhaps an alternate reality?
Maybe. But what might have happened had Korea stayed united. (So she translates my words for the director)
You can talk about the great economic success story of South Korea. But when you contrast this with the extreme hardship and the dictatorship in North Korea, it is actually even more of a tragedy: that the same people are divided and have such different destinies.
We might also talk about a dictatorship in South Korea, too. Back awhile, maybe. As I grow older I am beginning to understand that dictatorships come in lots of different guises.
(The translator laughs again) Right, right! (She continues) Well, the South Korean government has made a lot of… has changed a lot over the years into something more Democratic. In fact we’re having a big election, the National Assembly Election, today!
Really?! Did Mr. Kang get an absentee ballot?
Well, good! You said that Korea had only been separated for some 60 years. But most people alive in the world today have only been alive for 60 years, if that. So this division is the only way they know Korea – as North and South. That’s all they know about it and that’s all they think about it. This is one reason why I believe movies are so important. They can open up whole worlds to people that they didn’t know about. (Sure, they could go to a history book, but most people tend not to do this.) So movies can reach them. And show them that it was not always like this. But let me ask another question: It says somewhere in your biography that before you made Shiri, you almost gave up on moviemaking entirely. Why?
Actually this is related to what you were saying about dictatorships. Before I started directing and shot the movie Shiri, I had been only a screen-writer. From the mid to the late 1980 -- which was the period of the military dictatorship in Korea -- every single script I submitted was rejected by the government censors. So I thought, why am I doing this, and why would I want to be doing this in a country like this?! I felt this way because of the censorship only, not because I fell out of love with film-making. Eventually, however, society changed.
And things loosened up a bit?
In fact, the society, the social issues, the political environment, all of this of that time is very much like what China is going through right now. My friends who are Chinese filmmakers, I can relate to them, because they are in this very same fight: trying to get things made, while the government is still holding control.
Obviously there was censorship around the violence and the sexuality and all that. But on a larger scale, the major thing was: Any film that inflamed a sense of identity, or the consciousness about class, about the haves vs. the have-nots, anything that seemed to be stirring up the established social order would be censored.
Woo! It’s good that The Housemaid waited a few years before the remake.
Anything like that would be censored because it might make the people feel something like rebellion in their hearts.
Just like over here, when anything like that is brought up, the Republicans all scream – (The translator chimes in with me) Class warfare! You can't say that!
Your movie really reminded me in some ways of Peter Weir’s film…. Damn -- now I can't remember its title, but it's about the men who escape from a Russain prison camp and walk all the way home...
That probably means that it should have had a better title…
(The translator looks it upon the IMDB: The Way Back, she tells us.)
Yes! Thank you. Your scenes in the Russian prison camp in My Way called Weir’s film to mind. (He nods, yes.) Your film Shiri came out around the same time as JSA, right?
Oh -- well, when I saw JSA and then Tae Guk Gi, I began to grow very interested in Korean history. So maybe I should see Shiri.
It’s available on Netflix (the translator tells me).
I might watch Tae Guk Gi again, too.
That’s also available on Netflix (translator again).
I do believe that they will be reunited. You know how good friends -- who have had a falling-out or have grown apart -- can reunite, once they overcome that. It’s been long enough. We’re the same people still, so I believe reunification will come about.
Thank you so much Director Kang, for this movie and for your other movies – and for your time today.