Pieta's director KIM Ki-duk
- What does it feel like to make a comeback after 4 years of hiatus?
I wasn't active for about three years. It's not that I didn't make any films. I made Arirang
but they weren't released in Korea. Pieta
was a project that I started with view to open at theaters so it'll be a chance for me to meet the audience after a long break. It doesn't, feel all the new or special, though.
As a director, when I make a film, I always hope that the audience will come and see it and find some meaning in it or enjoy it. My films so far have been ambiguous and they've mostly been films with meaning rather than entertainment value, so in that respect, Pieta will feel more commercial.
I'm curious to find out what the audience will feel about it. Having said that, I don't think Pieta is all that different from my previous works. It simply has a more familiar story, a story that we all know.
I'm curious every time I release a film, how my topic the script that I wrote, the end result that comes from my direction, how all those will be perceived by the audience and that curiosity is a great source of excitement and anticipation for me every time.
- What does the title Pieta mean?
It's not simple to explain the title. It could have a religious meaning and the word itself has the meaning of "show mercy to me". So, the audience may not find it easy to understand it but they may also become curious about it.
- What is Pieta about? What kind of message did you want to convey?
I wanted to talk about the extreme world of a capitalist society. We live in a world where money rules everything so some people end up borrowing money when they don't have the means to pay it back. This causes many problems for many people.
Pieta is not 100% about money, though. It's about what happens between people in an extremely capitalist society, how those problems begin and how they affect people's feelings towards oneanother. Most people living in this modern world are trapped by this barrier called money and as soon as we are trapped, we become victims. I think everyone becomes a victim and an assailant despite themselves.
Pieta is about people who have to act out those two roles whether they want or not. I hope that people that watch it will think seriously about the kind of extremely capitalism in which we live.
- What kind of personal significance does Pieta have for you on a personal level as a director?
It's a film with a very clear plot. A family member suddenly appears to a man who's had no family and one by one, secrets are revealed. (Due to the embargo set by the Venice International Film Festival) I'm not in a position to go into detail about the plot but it's basically about two different kinds of maternal love.
Depending on how the audience perceive this point, they'll either find it fun or not and they'll either see meaning in it or not. It's about how one family is formed unintentionally and the conflict experienced by its members. That conflict takes the film to its final scene and I hope that my audience will find it interesting. And I hope that by watching it, the audience will have a chance to think about themselves and their own lives.
- What made you decide to cast CHO Min-su and LEE Jung-jin?
I wrote the script in November of last year and as the pre-production process went fast, we started shooting in February this year. It only took ten days to confirm the casting. I didn't have a plan B in casting so I was lucky to get my first choices.
Depending on the person who reads the script, different interpretations are possible but I tend to change the script according to the actors. I don't decide beforehand this character should be played by such and such character. I met each actor individually and thought hard about their images for two to three days. I kept in mind the feelings they inspired in me and their voices and tried to put those aspects into the characters.
- What was it like working with CHO Min-su and LEE Jung-jin?
I would need a lot of time to talk about the joy I had working with them. I'm so grateful that I've had the extreme good luck to work with them. Whatever happens in the future, I'll always keep in my heart the time I spent with them. It's important that we got to spend some time together when we're not family members like father or mother. The end result of our time together is Pieta. I chose them as actors but I also feel that I was chosen, too.
has got a lot of praise for the work she's done before Pieta
. I was so grateful to her as we were shooting. There are two kinds of actors, those who need constant direction and those who don't need much direction. CHO Min-su came to the shoot with so much preparation, her head full of what she could do. It can get pretty crazy on shoots but she always had several versions ready in her head. I was incredibly lucky to work with such an actor.
In contrast, LEE Jung-jin
has one version ready in his head. When you don't give directions, he's like a blank piece of paper. He lets me paint him how I want and he gets better the more direction I give. He's someone who constantly thinks about his character. He also creates a good atmosphere, listens to what I think, then he changes totally. His ability to change totally astounded me and I believe that you'd be able to see that on the screen, too.