Our Sunhi, and their approach to the film
Director Hong Sang-Soo’s new film, U ri Sunhi (Our Sunhi), had its international premiere at the 66th Locarno Film Festival on the 10th of August, 2013. The director and lead actor Lee Sun-Kyun were at the press conference and talked about various things from the movie.
The first question director Hong Sang-Soo was asked dealt with the drinking in the movie, and how he shot those scenes. “For an actor, it's difficult to mimic being drunk, so I let them drink a little bit. They can still remember lines, but after a couple of takes, they are actually drunk,” he said.
U ri Sunhi is shot in a distinctive way, with many long takes and theatrical blocking. Sang-soo explained this by saying, “I wanted to keep it like theater, so I just shot statically. The actors walk in and out. There are long takes, because I didn't feel like cutting.”
A person in the audience asked whether there were any specific philosophical undertones to the conversations in the movie, and the conclusions reached by the character. His reply was, “I don't know what philosophy means for you. It could be different for everyone. I try to find solutions to social and personal problems in everyday life. That's why my films feature that.”
The climax of the film deviates from the preceding scenes, being in an iconic Korean location unseen in the movie until then. Hong Sang-Soo elaborated on the reasoning behind this, “In the beginning of the shoot, I wanted to shoot a nice autumn background and felt like going to the palace. That's why the climax Is in a new place entirely, even though the rest of the film features conversations in similar settings, which was done on purpose to highlight the similar beliefs of the characters, even though they feel about Sunhi differently.”
An audience member asked Hong Sang-Soo if he was influenced by Eric Rohmer in his approach to the film. He answered, “I don't consciously know what the relation is between my films and his films, but I saw 4-5 of his films in school and liked them. Whether there is any influence is for you to decide.”
He continued on the subtext of the film by stating, “I think every person is a complicated being. You can't judge them instantly. What we are doing is an abstraction of their person, but we have to recognize that there is a limitation to what we are doing.”
The questioning now turned to Lee Sun-Kyun, who plays Munsu in the film, a romantic interest for Sunhi. U ri Sunhi is extremely demanding for an actor, as anyone viewing it can testify. The actor spoke about his experience on the shoot, “The director doesn't prepare the screenplay till the day before the shoot. We would get the script maybe in the evening, and discuss the takes over dinner. And because I was drunk, it really became more interesting to act them out. I was drunk but not completely drunk. There would be some improvisation since the scenes were, like, 20 minutes. But, it was very liberating.”
He was asked how he dealt with the long takes in the movie. He clarified, “If I made a mistake, I would have to start from the beginning so I would pay extra attention.” This drew a huge laugh from the audience, and the press conference ended on that note.Laya Maheshwari