Quentin Tarantino and Bong Joon-ho Have Busan Love Affair

Directors describe common cinema upbringing, mutual admiration

Quentin Tarantino and Bong Joon-ho on
Getty Images/Chung Sung Jun

BUSAN — Reigniting the cooling embers of the Busan International Film Festival on Friday was a spirited love-in between Quentin Tarantino and South Korea’s Bong Joon-ho.

The pair expressed their mutual admiration and above all their shared cinema culture at an outdoor talk session, on the patio beside the Busan Cinema Center. The match-up was moderated by Variety’s chief film critic Scott Foundas.

The talk was something of an impromptu affair. Tarantino was already in the Asia region earlier this week to receive an award in Macau and decided to pay a visit on Bong, director of recent smash hit “Snowpiercer” as well as more genre titles such as “The Host.”

Unconfirmed rumors swept the festival Thursday that Tarantino was already in town and that the pair went together to watch restored Shaw Brothers martial arts classic “The One-Armed Swordsman.”

Tarantino said how shaken he was by “The Host” in 2006., adding he sees similarities between Bong and Steven Spielberg’s works from the 1970’s. He praised Bong’s ability to alternate the genres of his output, switching between serious drama and comedy.

Bong responded by describing the shock of seeing Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction.” “The final scene which was full of blood had a feel of Greek tragedy about it,” he said.

The two also discussed their life-long passion for cinema, with Bong reminiscing about watching Hollywood and Hammer Studio films on the American Forces Network channel. “The films were more explicit in depicting sex and violence compared to what was available in Korea back then. I would watch them and make up the narrative in my head as I had no understanding of the English language. I think it helped to develop my sense of imagination,” said Bong.

“I consider myself to be a student of cinema and I will graduate on the day I die,” said Tarantino, adding that this attitude helps him to make films with the enjoyment of the audience in mind.

The debate was covered by several national TV stations, and local media were quick to pronounce the Bong-Tarantino talk the high point of the festival.

The festival wraps its 18th edition on Saturday with the announcement of the winners in the New Currents competition section and the screening of “The Dinner” by local director Kim Dong-hyun.

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