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Ko - production in Busan
  • Director ZHANG Lu of LOVE AND…
  • by LEE Hwa-jung /  Nov 03, 2015
  • “If the film making site was love, I wanted to revisit there”
    ZHANG Lu’s Love and... seeks the time in the past when film was still used in making a movie, and the love for it. The movie consists of 4 chapters, where the first chapter introduces the overall setting of the entire film and the rest 3 chapters are more like experimental variations of the first. The first chapter features the actors; the second chapter consists of lighting and camerawork; the third chapter shows previous footage and clips of the actors; and the last chapter is the same as the first, but the actors’ bodies are missing and all you have is their lines.
    In doing so, we experience a mysterious world where different layers of a film are each shown individually, which used to be overlapped and seen as one entity. The old man (played by AHN Sung-ki)’s question of “Can you hear the music?” and the first lighting assistant’s question of “Do you believe in love?” represent ZHANG’s love for those that are not visible but still exist, and also his own attitude towards cinema. It is his first film since Gyeong-ju (2014). In this work, ZHANG confesses his devoted love for cinema one more time, through his original perspective beyond the existing frame.
    You belong to the generation that experienced shooting with film as opposed to doing it digitally, and even when you shoot it digitally, you insist on natural lighting. What part of the film work would you say you especially like?
    Before discussing the important aspects of film work, let me tell you this first. I never knew film would disappear so fast. The last work that I did on film was Dooman River in 2009, and in 6 years, film is all gone. Film work and digital work are so textually different. If the texture is the same, it makes sense to go for the more convenient way of the two. However, when the texts are totally different, is it right to go for digital just because it is more convenient? I believe that film will come back. It will never be the mainstream, but there are certain sentiments that have to be communicated through film and nothing else.
    How was it to shoot with film after a long time?
    We still miss the good old days, saying it was such and such back then. Those memories have become the reality in this film, however. To be sure, the tension was different. When working digitally, it doesn’t matter how much you waste, but with film, you try to economize. In whatever area, such attitude is important. It was a precious experience to have.
    In the first chapter, the lighting assistant (PARK Hae-il) gets furious and yells to everybody “You think you know what film is? You don’t know jack shit!” and runs away with the film container.
    In reality, it is beyond imagination for a staff to run away with a film container like that. However, I wanted to give it a try on behalf of every staff. Film making is not a one man’s job. Everyone in different areas participates in the work with their own love for it. However, within the existing film making system, their thoughts are lost in the director’s decision. I wanted to show that decision is not absolute, and other staffs' thoughts are as important, too.
    The second chapter, Film, the camera follows the water tank of the hospital and various objects in the empty space, until it ends up with a popular Chinese song from the 1930s.
    Popular films tend to erase their own sentiments and fit common sentiments with those of the audience. However, is it really the right way to go? I know many more people would have liked it if I had used a Korean song. However, my own sentiments wanted a Chinese song. It was just more right for me. Zhōu Xuán was among the most popular actresses and singers in China in the 1930-40s. However, despite all the popularity that she enjoyed, she ended up her life in a mental hospital. If you knew the song, you would feel with me at some point of the movie.
    The third chapter’s clips and footage look as though they are being played by the empty screen from the previous chapter. PARK Hae-il’s Memories Of Murder (2003) and MOON So-ri’s A Peppermint Candy (2000), AHN Sung-ki’s May 18 (2007), and HAN Ye-ri’s A Blind River (2009) are used for the story. What made you choose these particular films and scenes?
    For PARK and MOON, I wanted to go back to the very beginning of their film career. In Memories Of Murder PARK was so mysterious. It is so confusing whether that bastard really killed them or not. In reality, there is no staff like him who can yell and quit the job like that. They all just keep it to themselves. However, I thought PARK could do that. He really does have such aspects. For AHN and HAN, I wanted to choose a film that has to do with death. For AHN, it is hard to think of his youth or old days. To the audience, he is always a good middle aged man. It is hard to imagine an elderly AHN. Besides, for HAN, I wanted to create a more hopeful character, and that is why I inserted the giving birth scene from A Blind River.
    The psychiatric hospital and parking lot all have appeared in the first chapter, except without the actors. The camera follows these empty locations, and they are newly interpreted.
    Once the audience sees a film, they interpret and re-create it. The fourth chapter does not feature any actors, but the setting of the first chapter and the sound of the actors. When shooting a scene, the setting is precious. But as soon as you are done with shooting, that space is just gone. I was curious what would be still left in that empty space. For example, let’s suppose a father and mother died. Have they really disappeared from that space? Wouldn’t they still exist in some other form? Disappearance is not exactly disappearance. As long as they still affect my feelings and sentiments, they still exist, only in some other form. If the film shooting site was love, I wanted to revisit the space that I have loved.
    Whereas your previous works including Desert Dream (2007), Iri (2008), and Dooman River focused on the identity of the isolated people such as refugees from North Korea and Joseonjok (ethnic Koreans living in China) immigrants, your more recent works like Gyeong-ju and Love and... seem to show some kind of change in terms of the subject matter.
    Hasn’t the life itself changed? A film reflects your own life. Looking back on my last three and a half years in Korea, all I have ever met are filmmakers. Unlike when I was in China, film is the only thing in common that I have with the people around me. Film used to be only a small part of my life in China, but here, all I talk about is film. This does not sound like a normal life, does it? Nobody ever stops by if not for film matters, and at school, I talk about nothing but films. It seems as though I am in a hospital or something. (laughs) With Love and..., I guess I wanted to talk about the film shooting site, which has become a part of my life.
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