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Ko - production in Busan
  • 10-Year-Old CHOI Soo-in Explores THE WORLD OF US in Berlin
  • by Pierce Conran /  Mar 10, 2016
  • “This kind of story is very universal and could happen anywhere”
     
     
    Playing in the Generations section of Berlinale, The World of Us is the feature-length debut of filmmaker YOON Ga-eun, whose previous short Sprout earned the Crystal Bear in the same section two years ago, but the film also marks the debut of its 10-year-old lead actress CHOI Soo-in.
     
    The film firmly and assiduously follows the relationship of Sun (CHOI Soo-in) and her friends in the 4th grade, which is as confusing and troublesome as those of grown ups. Sun, Ji-ah and Bo-ra are ordinary girls with no special features, and they grow close, fall apart and make up, which is a part of the painful process called growing up.
     
    Speaking to us in the lobby of her hotel, CHOI explains the unique process that led to the natural qualities of The World of Us and thoughts on acting whether she aims to make a career of it.
     
    Are you enjoying your time in Berlin? It must have been a very special experience walking on the red carpet.
     
    It’s my first time in Berlin and also to come to a festival, because it’s my first feature film. I was nervous but in a good way because I was expecting some good experiences. However, I didn’t see the film before I came so I was excited to see it in full for the first time. I was a little afraid because I wasn’t sure if I could do the Q&As in front of so many people.
     
     
    How did you get your role in The World of Us and what drew you to the film?
     
    My mom looks online every night for auditions. She saw this one and we went. I did five auditions for it, but they weren’t really focused on acting. The director asked me questions about my school life and wanted to see how I reacted naturally. Later she brought other children and gave us all roles to see how we would interact together. At first I didn’t get to read the script, the director only told me what the basic story would be. I normally don’t get very excited about things but when I spoke with her and got to know the story I became very eager and wanted to build up my courage for the role. To have everything go smoothly and make the characters natural, she didn’t give us the script from the beginning to the end. I never saw it. Until I went to the first screening, I never knew the whole story. The director explained things scene by scene. We never had to memorize lines or scenes.
     
    I heard you spent a long time with director YOON Ga-eun and your co-stars before making the film. What sort of preparation did you do?
     
    We prepared for about one and a half months and met 20 times. At first we just talked to each other and had a fun time together. I think the director wanted to see how we would react to things. So she created an environment where we could play. For one of her exercises, she would write a word on a memo pad, like love, and put it on the board and then we had to act to make the person in front of us guess the word. Later we did some role-playing to prepare. There was also a therapist there that we talked to about school and our relationships with our friends and the director. This preparation made it much easier for me on set.
     
    And how was your experience on set for the first time?
     
    Because we didn’t have any script, it was kind of like the role-playing that we had already done. So the situations were things that I experienced before, which made it easy for me to act as I understood how my character was feeling. At first I felt a little awkward being on set but as time went by I got really used to it.
     
     
    The World of Us seems like a very realistic film. Were Sun’s experiences similar to your own in school?
     
    This kind of story is very universal and could happen anywhere. I experienced similar situations and saw these things happen in front of me. The level of competitiveness and pressure is different between schools and classes. I never really experienced it but my friends in other schools have been hurt by people’s blunt comments.
     
    What was it like working with director YOON? And have you seen her other films?
     
    When I met her for the first time it was a little awkward but she’s a very good listener and she asked a lot of questions. We talked a lot and she really listened to me and my opinions. After that I felt very comfortable, even on set. I’ve seen both her films many times and they really helped me a lot to know what to expect from the set before making the film. I tried to watch the films whenever I had free time.
     
    How did you become interested in acting? And is it something you want to continue?
     
    At first I went to an acting school near my house because I thought I was very shy in front of people. I talked to my mom and went there to build my confidence. Later, my mom said how she had wanted to be an actor or singer when she was younger. Then I realized that those can be jobs too. Before, I thought I might be a lawyer or something. First time it was curiosity but now, if I don’t continue acting, I think I’ll regret it a lot. I definitely want to continue.
     
    Are there any actors or films you really admire?
     
    I don’t really have many favorites but I do like KIM Sae-ron. These days I’m trying to watch more varied films. I watched one of the films playing here in the Generations section and really enjoyed it.
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