This book is about Korean cinema. The first half of the book has been dedicated to discuss the history of Korean cinema, where the book gives a general background about Korean cinema from 1903 up to 1980. In chapter one the author has discussed – how motion picture arrived in colonized Korea (the origin); The exhibition of moving pictures and the advent of Korean cinema (such as Park Jung -hyun’s interference by making The story of *Jang -hwa*and *Hong Ryeon* in 1924) ; Japanese colonial period and heyday of silent films; conflict between colonialism and nationalism; Motion picture and film censorship regulation; ‘Arirang’ and national cinema;
The KAPE cinema movement and left wing films; The sound film and militarism; The first Korean sound film (The Story of Chun- ‘hyang’ in 1930); The motion picture law; Liberation and the Korean war as a one of the main components of Korean cinema; Policies to promote the film industry after the Koran war; The Korean cinema renaissance in 1960′s; The authoritarian period and depression of the film industry; The formation of the teen audience for high teen films.
The second half of the book presents a detailed analysis of modern Korean cinema since 1980s up to now. It includes the following essays: The pressure group of Korean cinema; Liberation of production and foreign film imports; Film education in Korea (such as The Korean Academy of Film Art); The beginning of Hollywood direct distribution and resistance; The small-scale theatre culture and the popularization of videos; The new Korean cinema movement;
The development of alternative and independents films; Changes in the Korean film industry after direct distribution; The advent of Korean new wave (along with Park Kwang-su); Sopyonje, Im Kwon-taek and the revival of nationalism (in 1993); Art film exhibition: from videoteques to Art film theatre; Defend the screen quota system; The enactment of the film promotion law and the launch of the Korean film council; The growth and outlook of Korea cinema since 1996 (growth in quantity and growth in quality); The launch of film festivals (such as Pusan, Puchon, Jeonju, Seoul etc); Multiplex theatre system.
The third half of the book includes an in-depth critical analysis on Kim Ki-duk’s film language which will focus on: The biography of Kim Ki-duk; His way of using of film language; Avant-garde attribution of Kim Ki-duk in making films; Analytical essays on films text of Kim Ki- such as Bad guy, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring, Samaritan Girl and 3-Iron.
Author :Sanjeewa Pushpakumara
Published by Sarasavi Prakashakayo
Year – 2009
IR : Sanjeewa Pushpakumara vanakkam, ayubowan, could you please first introduce yourself to our readers?
SP : I was born in Trincomalee, East of Sri Lanka. I have been working as a journalist for newspapers, radio and TV. Now I am working mostly as a film director, but also writer and producer.
IR : Could you also tell us how did it start for you as a film director and producer? Who and what gave you the taste of cinema?
SP : While I was working as a journalist I was able to watch a lot of films which I had never seen before. In Colombo there are few foreign cultural embassies such as Alliance Française, Goethe (German), American Center and India Cultural Center, as well were there always films screenings and some films exhibitions and festivals as well which are annually organized by EU, Korea, Iran and other countries. I have always been at those festivals as a moviegoer, while I was watching those films I realized I have many stories to tell the world. Then I began to walk through film studies by myself.S till I can say those festivals inspired me a lot to be a filmmaker.
IR : Who are the film makers, actors actresses you admire the most, in Sri Lanka and abroad?
SP : Filmakers in Sri Lanka I must say Ashoka Handagama and Prasana Vithanage heavily influcend me, and then Lest James Peries, Dharmasena Patheraja and Dharmasiri Bandaranayake as well. In meanwhile there is a film critic called Manubandu Vidiyapathy; his writings also helped me a lot. In the world cinema, mainly Andrei Tarkovsky and Ingmar Bergman and then so many directors including Bela Tarr, Michel Angelo Antonio, Carlos Reygardas, Weerasethakul, Ceylan, Abbas Kiarosthami, Kim Ki-duk, Ozu, etc.
IR : You made short movies called Touch and Wings to Fly : what would you say about it?
SP : Touch I made in 2007 as final production to my film diploma. It’s also about a soldier who lost both of his arms. Wings to Fly also I made as final production of my film studies in Korea in 2008. The film is about an affair between blind girl and army soldier.
IR : Flying Fish is now a well known movie which was shown and appreciated in festivals all over the world : can you first tell us bout the story?
IR : Where, when and how did you shoot the movie?
SP : Entire film was shot in around my house which is locataed in Eastern province in Sri Lanka. Film shooting completed end of 2010. Whole film was shot within 17days.
IR : Making this movie, did you consider yourself as a committed film maker? What was your main purpose?
SP : Still I don’t know exactly, I am a true filmmaker, anyhow I want to be an organic filmmaker in future one day, a self revealing filmmaker. Making Flying Fish I can say only one thing for sure: somewhat I was able to cure my soul.
IR : Has this movie also something to do with your own life? Is it an autobiographical movie?
SP : Certainly this film is my own life you may say, Flying Fish is as an autobiographical film. As a filmmaker I want to tell about my own life.
IR : Is it possible for a Sri Lankan film maker to ignore the recent history of this country and the civil war?
SP : I don’t think ignoring this history is easy for a filmmaker. This history has been traumatizing our lives forever. So as a filmmaker how can be ignoring this?
IR : Is it easy to make movies in Sri Lanka?
SP : I don’t think which is easy. As a filmmaker you have to face many problems. Among them is political situation, which is still worse than financial obstacles as well.
IR : What do you think about Indian cinema, Kollywood, Bollywood…?
SP : To be honest, I have no business about those cinemas but I am not refusing them since people like those cinemas. I can only say which is not neither my cinema or expecting cinema. I know these cinemas spoiling people minds and exploring the pocket of ordinary people but people still like it.
IR : Now what are your plans about next movie ?
SP : I have been developing two projects wish I could be able to turn on these projects into films . Will see, we never know what would happen in next minutes.
“The main reason I wanted to be a filmmaker was to heal my soul,” Sanjeewa Pushpakumara, director of Tiger contender Flying Fish, tells Ben Walters. “Without telling this story to the world, there would be no reason to live in this world for me.”
Flying Fish comprises three interwoven stories set against the backdrop of contemporary Sri Lanka. The conflict with the Tamil Tigers, or LTTE, looms large: in one tale, a 13-year-old girl is caught up in the LTTE’s demands of support from her father; in another, a middle-aged man is distressed at his daughter’s relationship with a soldier, and in the third, a teenager resents his mother’s affair with a local man. Violence, humiliation and despair are shot in stately compositions, often against stunning natural beauty.
“These are true stories,” says Pushpakumara, who was born in 1977 in war-stricken eastern Sri Lanka. “These are experiences from my home town, which is far away from Colombo. This film tells how we grow up as human beings in Sri Lanka, what kind of problems we have had to overcome and how our people’s dignity has been lost. I always wanted to tell this story to the world, but how could I do it without money?”
Having studied filmmaking in Sri Lanka and South Korea, Pushpakumara eventually secured $25,000 in production funding and a further €25,000 completion money from IFFR’s Hubert Bals Fund. “Without that, the project would still be on its way,” he says. Production was kept simple. “I shot in my home town, all the people stayed in my home, my mother made food for up to 70 people. I worked mostly with amateurs. My DoP hadn’t made a feature before, nor had the production designer and most of the cast.”
Pushpakumara’s cinematic heroes include Sri Lankans Ashoka Handagama and Prasana Vithanage, as well as Panahi, Kiarostami, Reygadas, Apichatpong and Kim Ki-Duk, about whom he has written a book. And he describes Tarkovsky and Bergman as “the gods in my life. I don’t believe in religion but I believe in these gods.”
The Sri Lankan government last year crushed the LTTE. Pushpakumara sympathised with their objective, but not their tactics. “There should be a state for the Tamil people,” he says, “but I couldn’t accept the way the LTTE’s demands were made. They conscripted so many kids my age who lost their lives. Both the LTTE and the Sri Lankan army victimised people. My father was beaten by the army. I was beaten several times as a kid.”
The war might be over but its effects remain – effects some would rather not engage with, because of personal discomfort or national pride. “Most people don’t want to hear this story in Sri Lanka but, for me, people’s dignity is more important that the country’s,” Pushpakumara says. “Materially, the war is over but the ideological war is still there. The fear that was in people’s minds is still there. And people are still thinking of the dignity they lost.”
Sanpushpa Expression (Pvt) Ltd is devoted to make independent art films. It also engages in academic activities related to film making and film studies within Sri Lanka.
Founded : 2007
Company Focus: Fiction Feature, Experimental, Short films
Territories of interest: Worldwide
Production (Feature film)
Burning Birds (Co-Production) – in development
Flying Fish- (Co-Production with Asia Digital Entertainment (Pvt) Ltd) – 2011
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