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“Secret Sunshine” by Lee Chang-Dong

One of Korea’s leading filmmakers, Lee Chang-dong, is presenting his latest work in Competition, entitled Secret Sunshine. The film mixes comedy and despair, darkness and light and is an ode to how we cope in everyday life. Featuring one of Korea’s biggest stars, Song Kang-ho and also Jeon Do-yeon, Secret Sunshine follows the couple who re-locate to Miryang and their difficulties in adapting.

Lee Chang-dong relates his intentions: “My original idea for the movie was for it to be more realistic, perhaps in the format of a documentary. I realized that would be difficult to achieve, so I forced to give it up many times. (…) For this movie, we didn’t necessarily shoot the same scene over and over again. It was important for the movie and the actors to maintain the right flow of emotion, so we kept the order of the scenes in the screenplay.”

 

Press conference: 

 

At the press conference held for the in-Competition presentation of Secret Sunshine, actors Jeon Do-yeon and Song Kang-ho appeared with director Lee Chang-dong to field questions from journalists. Here are the highlights:

Lee Chang-dong  on the city of Miryang: "Miryang is a typical Korean city. It is an ordinary place. It has a lovely name, though, which means "secret sunshine." I have always wondered why such a dull town had such a poetic name. The idea behind that choice of title being that even in an altogether ordinary life, there can be a metaphysical quest."

Lee Chang-dong  on religion: "It is not a film about religion; it's a film about people, whether they are religious or not. (…) Regarding my reasons for choosing the Christian religion: mainly, because in Korea, there are many, many Christians. And also, the themes of forgiveness and reconciliation are very strong in the Christian religion, which tries to give answers to human suffering, more than other religions."

Jeon Do-yeon on her work as an actress:  "I made no preparations for the role, because these were feelings that were so foreign to me I couldn't even imagine them. Therefore, I live through the events in the life of Shin-ae, my character, at the same time as she does. (…) Secret Sunshine is my tenth film, but I feel like I'm at the beginning of my career again, because this film renewed my energy so much."

Song Kang-ho on his part: "I didn't model my character on anyone in particular. But he's the type of person one frequently meets in Korea, so I was comfortable playing him."

Lee Chang-dong on the fact that two Korean films (Breath and Secret Sunshine) were selected In Competition: "I doubt that there's any link between the number of films In Competition in a festival and recognition of a cinematography. Before a film has a nationality, it is the work of a team, of a special creative spirit. However, it is true that having two films in Competition attracts attention for Korean cinema, and I hope the attention will give it even more energy."

Lee Chang-dong  on the beginning and end of the film: "I chose to begin the film with a shot of the sky and to end with a shot of just any piece of land, even a fairly dirty one. By that, I simply meant to say that the meaning of life is not to be found in the sky, but on Earth."

Lee Chang-dong on violence: "Generally speaking, cinema is increasingly violent. The particularity of Korean cinema, compared to American cinema, for example, is that we have a much more realistic, rawer approach to violence. For example, Korean filmmakers will not show serial killers as charming characters."

 

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