KOFICE 'Korea Joa Project':
Hangul Celluloid Travelogue
'The Silenced' BIFF 2015 screening and director/actress Q&A
Friday, 2 October 2015:
After a hearty breakfast at the Ibis Ambassador hotel in Busan, the Korea Joa members, KOFICE co-ordinators and interpreters boarded the KJ Project coach and headed to Choi’s Milmyeon (Milmyeon is a famous Busan noodle dish made by mixing flour and potato starch with beef broth), near the Megabox Haeundae cinema for an early lunch.
* As a side note, those of you who continue to read these travelogue articles as they appear will soon come to realise that copious amounts of numerous types of Korean food at regular intervals formed an integral (and welcome) part of the Korea Joa trip *
Prior to travelling to Korea, each of the Korea Joa members was asked to choose between a screening of ‘Ode to My Father’ and ‘The Silenced’ and so when we moved to the Megabox Haeundae itself we separated into two groups for our chosen screening. I personally had already seen both films but as my review of ‘The Silenced’ had been somewhat critical I decided it would be my choice, specifically to see if my opinion of the film (and what I believed were its shortcomings) altered in any respect on a second viewing. It also has to be said that ‘The Silenced’ is a stunningly beautiful film visually so my decision was also partly based on my desire to see that beauty on the big screen.
As far as I was concerned on first viewing, ‘The Silenced’ was, until around the halfway point, an utterly superlative example of Korean horror cinema at its best, sumptuous, visually alluring, perfectly creepy and grippingly engaging. However, I felt that this first half was so successfully realised that the ultimate conclusion – the reveal, if you like – simply wasn’t close to being of the same calibre and the noticeable change of genre (from that implied by the early stages) somewhat felt out of place. In short, ‘The Silenced’, in my opinion, was rather a victim of its early success. On attending this rewatch, I had prepared myself fully for the possibility of changing my mind in hindsight but no sooner had the clues to the true narrative state of play begun to surface than I realised not a single word of my review needed to, or would be, changed. A shame in one respect, a relief in another.
Following the screening, audience members were relocated to a different cinema room where a Q&A with the director of ‘The Silenced’, Lee Hae-young, and actresses Park Bo-yeong and Park So-dam, while viewers of ‘Ode to My Father’ were treated to a Q&A with director Yoon Je-kyoon.
‘The Silenced’ Q&A was a fairly laid back, relatively short affair with the majority of questions relating to the aforementioned change in genre and indeed the balance between separate sections. Lee Hae-young clearly did not want the film to be viewed as an almost classic Korean horror but I couldn’t help but feel he was selling short the movie’s very strongest aspect. Director Lee’s focus was first and foremost on creating a story showing the relationship of the two main characters and here I agree with him 100%, both in that decision and in the deftness with which he achieved that aim. Actresses Park Bo-yeong and Park So-dam also discussed their love of the relationship aspect of the film, noting that it, and indeed the change of narrative direction, was what largely drew them to the roles. While I cannot shake the belief that some of Lee Hae-young’s directorial choices in ‘The Silenced’ were questionable at best and detracted somewhat from what would otherwise have been an utterly exemplary film, hearing his reasoning certainly gave me pause for thought. Ultimately, however, I still stand by each and every word of my review of ‘The Silenced’, wholeheartedly.
You can read the Hangul Celluloid review of ‘The Silenced at: http://www.hangulcelluloid.com/thesilenced.html
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