An Interview with Lee Hosup
The International Is the Personal
LH: First I’d like to say I think film is about communicating through one’s work. I hope you can understand what I most wanted to convey in this work through actually seeing the piece and not just from interviews and the like.
Q: What method of expression did you use for this piece?
LH: This time I particularly placed importance on the method of expression. As is clear in the editing stage of the production process, documentaries cannot escape arbitrariness and fictionalization. Taking this point into consideration, the method of expression for documentaries is an aspect that cannot be treated lightly. This work takes the form of direct cinema, but the content has turned into something postmodern and hyper realistic. I think this kind of style is in line with an era of crossover between genres. I think documentaries also need to regenerate styles and methods of expression in accordance with the era. Also, when shooting this work, I felt strongly about wanting to make the most of the material. So I didn’t use narration or music in the piece, because I didn’t want to use those elements to manipulate the viewers’ emotions. I wanted the viewers to feel something through only Yonja’s voice and the sounds from her life. There are also parts of this work that draw on the composition and shots of Ozu Yasujiro, who I greatly respect. I learned a great deal from the extremely eastern-style beauty and also the freshness of that impression from Ozu’s works.
Q: Can you elaborate on your comment in the YIDFF catalog that the international is also the personal?
LH: When I make a film, I want to take care with the complexity and multidimensionality contained within the documentary subject. Through looking at one individual, you also see the entirety of the international, political, cultural and social history behind them. In the future I’d like to make works that find such history within the individual, maintaining the complexity while taking it up. For this piece, the background of modern Korean history and the history of the war floated up in the midst of grasping the solitude and alienation born by Yonja as an individual. The influence of war on Yonja and her family, in other words on each individual and their humanity, duly made its appearance.
Q: Did you have a particular reason for wanting to have the premier at YIDFF?
LH: For various reasons it wasn’t possible, but originally that was what I wanted to do. One motivation is that Japan has a history similar to Korea. Emi, Yonja’s friend who appears in the film, is a Japanese woman. She and Yonja are both war brides who married G.I.s and came to the U.S. How did Yonja appear in the eyes of the audience here in Japan? I’m interested to know if people in Japan saw her as a foreign elderly woman with absolutely no relationship to Japan, or as someone like the war brides from Japan.
(Compiled by Hayasaka Shizuka)
Interviewers: Hayasaka Shizuka, Watanuki Mugi / Interpreter: Nemoto Rie
Photography: Matsumoto Miho / Video: Oki Masaharu / 2003-10-12