‘Movies belong to people’
Actress Kang voices concern over gov’t interference
Veteran South Korean actress Kang Soo-yeon has hit out against government interference in the film industry.
Kang, 51, director of the 22nd Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), was speaking on Thursday during a press conference for the opening film “Glass Garden.”
The actress, an internationally acclaimed movie star from the 1980s to the end of the 1990s, referred to audiences who watch and love films as “the ones who have nurtured film festivals as they are now.”
“Film festivals should be purely a channel for connection between movies and audiences,” she said. “No matter what kind of circumstances they may be under, whether about political, social or economical frameworks, film festivals must value films and audiences the most.”
Kang was referring to the past Korean government’s attempt to blacklist liberal-minded artists, anti-government cultural figures and progressive politicians and suppress them with social disadvan- tages.
In late September, investigators at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office raided the homes of former National Intelligence Service officials to secure documents, cell phones and electronically stored data that could prove the former conservative Lee Myung-bak administration’s involvement in making the blacklist.
The blacklist of 82 people included Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, actor Moon Sung-keun and comedienne Kim Mi-hwa.
“As long as there are beautiful movies and audiences who love those movies, film festivals must be kept alive. And Busan film festival must not forget this principle as well,” Kang said at the Busan Cinema Center in Haeundae-gu.
During the conference, Kang quietly shared words with Oliver Stone, the Academy Award-winning U.S. film producer, who sat next to her.
Stone will lead four jurors for New Currents, a competitive section that introduces the works of up-and-coming Asian directors.
The festival runs through Oct. 21, with 298 films from 75 countries showing on 32 screens in five theaters.
Kang, along with BIFF Chairman Kim Dong-ho, will quit the committee after the 22nd edition of the film festival. Kang and Kim have been at odds with staff of the organizing committee after the screening of the documentary “Diving Bell: The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol” was cancelled in 2014 following opposition from Busan Mayor Seo Byung-soo.
The film, directed by journalist Lee Sang-ho based on interviews and news footage, shows the then Park Geun-hye government’s “incompetence” after the ferry Sewol sank in waters off the southwestern port city of Jindo.
The incidnet killed more than 300 passengers, mostly high school students who were on excursion to scenic Jeju Island.
The cancellation of the screening of the documentary caused a stir among people in the film industry and the Directors’ Guild of Korea consisting of some 300 filmmakers has since boycotted the film festival over alleged government intervention.
It also divided the organizing committee.
Staff of the committee accused Kang and Kim of allegedly siding with the Busan mayor, without making efforts to make filmmakers’ voices heard. The two sides clashed in August when BIFF staff took collective action to demand Kang step down from the post to take responsibility for the division. Kang later said she would step down at the end of this festival.
Kang Soo-yeon speaks at the opening of a photo exhibition about legendary South Korean actor Shin Seong-il at the Busan Cinema Center, Thursday.