Shin Su-won, the Korean director of Busan’s opening film “Glass Garden,” showed support for the Busan Intl. Film Festival, criticizing the political issues that have bedeviled the event. Shin is a member of Directors’ Guild of Korea, which has not lifted its boycott of the BIFF.
“Despite its ordeal, I believe the BIFF should go on. Thinking back on my early days as a filmmaker, the BIFF has been a very important platform for independent filmmakers and artists,” said Shin. “Also, a film is not a director’s possession. Last summer, the entire cast and crew worked hard to make this film. That’s why I am here.”
The Busan Film Festival has been at the center of a storm of controversy for the past three years since it played documentary “The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol” against the wishes of the Busan mayor. Since then, city authorities retaliated against the festival with the eviction of festival director Lee Yong-kwan and the subsequent reduction of its funding. Ahead of last year’s festival, three Korean guilds showed their anger with the city authorities and voted to boycott BIFF.
Shin also discussed the infamous blacklist of supposedly leftist cultural figures operated by former South Korean presidents Park Geun-hye and Lee Myung-bak’s governments from as far back as 2009. Park was formally impeached this year as corruption and the blacklist scandals took their toll. That led to a change of government in May.
“The blacklist against artists was terribly unreasonable. I believe freedom of expression cannot be violated at any cost,” said Shin. “There are a few moments in ‘Glass Garden’ that refer to the [Lee Myung-bak government-led] four-river refurbishment project. Imagine what would have happened if I had screened this film under the previous government. … I was lucky to have avoided it.”
A novelist-teacher-turned-director, Shin explained that the story of “Glass Garden” had been in her mind during the development of her previous feature, “Madonna.”
“I had this desire to make a film about the distress I had as a novelist back in the day,” she said. “When I was developing ‘Madonna,’ I was also thinking about a film that centers on a novelist who happens to meet a woman with a wounded heart, and ends up plagiarizing her whole life.”
“Glass Garden,” which stars Moon Geun-young (“A Tale of Two Sisters”) and Kim Tae-hoon (“A Quiet Dream”), is the story of a lonely biotechnology researcher studying artificial blood, and a mysterious novelist writing about her.
Shin made her feature film debut, “Passerby #3,” in 2009. Her subsequent features “Pluto” and “Madonna” respectively played in Busan’s Vision section in 2012, and the Panorama section in 2015.