Thursday, 7 May 2009

Hot Docs 2009 Day 5 - Monday May 4, 2009


Day 5 was all South Korean film, all the time! The festival this year has a spotlight on films Made In South Korea so there were lots of choices to pick from. From stuntmen to farmers, both films were made to give a voice to an underrepresented and/or underappreciated group. I was happy to hear more about both groups! Rather listen all about it? Check out my Day 5 Vlog!

Action Boys director Byung-gil Jung

Action Boys / Woorin action beawooda
Dir: Byung-gil Jung
South Korea

When I found out one of the films of the festival was taking place in a school for stunt men in South Korea, I knew I had to see it. In Action Boys we follow the students of 8th year at the Seoul Action School from their auditions into the school, to student films and working in the field after graduation. It's clear from the beginning that the stuntmen do not come from a cookie cutter mold, in fact some of the most entertaining footage of the film is hearing the rationale (or lack thereof) of why individual students were chosen. What became clear very quickly was that regardless of what walk of life the action boys came from the ones that stick with it were hard working, very concerned about getting each shot right and overall, pretty modest. They are the ones who are actually driving that car or flying through the air. On one hand its amazing to see the amount of pratical effects that are done, especially with the cars but with the hand to hand / fighting it does break the mystique a little but that is all a part of movie (and TV) magic. The film really shines a light on those who are taking the punches, not giving them and the dedication they have to their job and making sure they get that shot right well so that we can cheer for 'the other guys'. It's great that now we can cheer for the Action Boys as well.

Action Boys website

Q&A Highlights with Action Boys director Byung-gil Jung
- director Byung-gil Jung personal connection to the subject was that he trained at the stunt school during the same year as the men we follow in the film
- choice of narrator was from working together on a previous short film, and he liked that she had a tv announcer/newscaster style of delivery.
- stuntmen have a bit of a negetive profile and the goal was to portray stuntment in as the professionals they are.
- Average age for stuntmen to retire is about 40 yrs old, similiar to athletes
- film recommendations that showcase the work of the stuntmen in Action Boys are City of Violence and The Good, The Bad, The Weird.

Farmer's Song director Yoon Dochyun

Farmer's Song / Nongminga
Dir: Yoon Dochyun
South Korea

In Farmer's Song we follow the a series of farmers as are affected and protest against a Free Trade Agreement with the US that would allow duty free imported goods. It's a fantastic film that really does give a voice to the farmers who have worked really hard to provide for themselves and their families over the years but now become faced with the risk of losing their livelihood if they stay in farming and the perpetual cycle of getting into debt to continue each season. The wonderful thing is it shows the resislience of the farmers, how they really enjoy what they are doing and are willing to fight for continuing to do their daily work. And the issue is huge, considering the fact that the projected reduction of farmers would go from 3.5 million to 300, 000. I kept thnking about those numbers, because what would happen to the remaining people and how would they live? It doesn't seem right at all. What I've kept thinking about since seeing the film was one quote from the film where a woman says that their daily life should sustain them, and I believe in that, for everyone.

Q&A Highlights with Farmer's Song director Yoon Dochyun
- reception of the film in South Korea has been a generally positive and farmers have said thank you as they can often be portrated / seen negativly in media from protesting
- Intention of the film was to give a voice to the farmers
- "Farmer's Song" refers to the song they sing while farming
- A 'Farm Bank'is when the government buys huges areas of land and then subsidizes it to farmers

Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival runs from April 30- May 10, 2009 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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