Sunday, January 20, 2013

Road to Sundance 2013: Jiseul, directed by O Muel

O Muel

Jiseul Production Still

Jiseul Production Still

Jiseul Production Still

Tell us about your film. 

The film Jiseul is selected at World Cinema Dramatic Competition in Sundance. This film is made by the needs of re-consideration for the ineffaceable historical pain in Jeju Island and also by my personal trauma based on my originality.

This film is based on the true story of the townsfolk that took sanctuary in a cave during an uprising on the island in April 1948. The Jeju 4.3 Incident, as it later became known, was sparked when the American military regime incited social strife and subsequent conflicts that lasted until September 1954. Almost 30,000 people are estimated to have been killed–most of them civilians. This film reenacts some part of the incident and reveals the hidden history to the World.
What do you love about your film?

I am proud of having been able to complete this whole film only with the support of the Jeju residents to show the history of Jeju Island which has been ignored by country. Also I feel moved since some of the actors in this film are descendants of the people who actually experienced this history. I also have the relatives who experienced it, so this film could be very true in regards to reenacting our tragedy in history. 

How long did it take you to make your film?

One year and 7 months

How did you finance your film?

I made the half of production cost, and some part of the rest was made by the support of citizens and local film committee.

(I am running troupe in Jeju Island, so I borrowed some money from the management, and it still needs to be returned.)

What was the most challenging part of the filmmaking process and how did you overcome it?

Since the tragedy of Jeju 4.3 Incident, more than 60 years have been passed without any opportunity to re-consider due to the ignorance from Korea and the world.

To bring the terrible memories up into the film caused huge pressure in regards to many things. As well as getting the financial support, the biggest pressure was that I had a duty to make great film enough to satisfy the local residence in Jeju Island.

This tragedy is still ineffaceable pain to them and the period of Jeju 4.3 Incident was the era of huge grudge for them so they wanted this film to show their anger in the most effective way. So it was the biggest pressure for me. However, to describe the history with anger is very dangerous way so I had to find another method to release it. It was the most important mission.

To make the financial support and to complete this film, the individual supporters have contributed with essential help. And this help, in other words, means their hope to bring this history out to public.

Tell us about your experience getting into Sundance

I feel the prestige of Sundance by the expectations from my surrounders. And due to the aftereffect of over-cost of production, I feel pressure on the expense for Sundance trip.

If you had to make the film all over again, would you do anything different?

No. I don’t want to make the film again. I don’t regret.

What’s next for your film? Do you have distribution? If so, when and how can people see it and if not, what are your hopes for the film?

The next film will be about female diver called ‘Haenyeo’ which is very exclusive culture of Jeju Island. For the film, there is no distribution or production company yet, but I would like to try to make it with my own. I plan to shoot it by early next year and the screening could be made at later next year. I have a hope to build the base for the independent filmmaking not having commercial filmmaking system.
Can you provide any advice to other filmmakers who dream of getting their films made and into Sundance?

I didn’t make the film for the purpose of Sundance. Going to the film festival is another story. It should follow with a fortune. I hope the filmmakers make a film for film itself not for film festivals.

Watch the Jiseul trailer here:

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