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Im Kwon-taek's 100th Feature Opens

2007/04/13 Source

Maestro filmmaker and Cannes Best Director prize winner Im Kwon-taek presented his 100th feature film, "Beyond the Years", at a special preview March 29th in Seoul. Over 300 filmmakers including many of Korea's top directors attended the first screening of Im's nostalgic hommage to the persistence of love through music in a rapidly changing landscape.

Along with Im were lead actor in the new film Cho Jae-hyun ("Bad Guy") and veteran actress Kang Soo-yeon ("The Surrogate Wife"). "Beyond the Years" is a follow-up to Im's 1993 classic "Seopyeonje". Billed as the director's first love-story, it reprises the tale of two orphans taken under the wing of a strict Pansori-performer, this time focusing on the unspoken love between the two step-siblings, which endures through separation and a fast developing Korea.

Oh Jung-hae, the lead actress in "Seopyeonje", returns to the same role while actor Cho plays her devoted brother. Both films are based on a trio of connected short stories by Lee Jeong-joon, with the 1993 film based on the first two ("Seopyeonje" and 'Light of Sound') and the new feature based on the third, called 'Traveller in Songhak-dong'.

For the humble, 69 year-old director, his 100th feature was only a number, until the media and his supporters began talking about its significance. As Im said in a press conference, "I was going to make it without a fuss but it became such a huge pressure". He did not want to make a mere sequel to "Seopyeonje", and worked with the music director, Korean-Japanese New Age pianist Yang Bang-eon, to give a new flavor to the score. Im also used computer graphics to express the passing of years by showing transformations in the landscapes, new roads and the disappearance of rivers and lakes.

The film's production suffered a serious setback when the original investment company suddenly pulled out, and the director had to start from scratch. Kino 2 Pictures took over the production and oversaw its completion, with Prime Entertainment distributing the film in Korea. It's local release is set for April 12th.

After the preview screening, around 100 of Korea's top directors and staff , including Park Chan-wook, Bong Joon-ho, and Lee Myung-se joined Im for toasts and food at actor Cho Jae-hyun's restaurant Nappun Namja ("Bad Guy"). Clearly Im is an honored father-figure and role model for many in the industry. His strong stance against last year's reduction of the Screen Quota system, was among the most noted.

At the press conference for "Beyond the Years", Im said, "Without the protection of the screen quota, I would not be here now. My films don't have the trappings for commercial success, which most investors are interested in, and many of them wouldn't have been made".

Nigel D'Sa (KOFIC)

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