×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Berlin: Kim Ki-duk Responds to #MeToo Accusers, Talks Violence in Movies

For the often controversial Korean auteur Kim Ki-duk, his first press event in Berlin since a court ruling on the assault of an actress was a case of mission accomplished.

Kim was in Berlin to present his Panorama-selected film “Human, Space, Time and Human.” But he became a target of the #MeToo anti-sexual violence cause when the Berlin Film Festival was accused of hypocrisy. The Berlinale has openly embraced #MeToo, so what was the festival doing by giving a platform to man recently accused of sexual violence?

Kim took the inevitable first question and answered directly. “There is indeed a regrettable case, which happened four years ago. I have explained and answered in court. The public prosecutor identified my slapping the actress as problematic,” said Kim. The court fined Kim for slapping the actress while making “Moebius,” but it dropped charges of sexual assault.

“We were rehearsing a scene, with a lot of people present. My crew did not say it was inappropriate at the time. The actress interpreted it differently,” Kim continued. “There has been a ruling. I don’t entirely agree with it, but I have shouldered the responsibility. And such rulings are part of the process of changing the film industry.”

Asked directly if he would like to apologize for the slapping incident, Kim was defiant. “No. I find it regrettable that this was turned into a court case.”

Another punchy question: Are you going to change your behavior? “The interpretations of this incident were different. I explained everything to the public prosecutor. I take on board this ruling,” Kim parried.

Actress Mina Fujii was asked how Kim treated her. “Working with Kim Ki-duk was very pleasant. That may surprise many people. We communicated a lot before shooting. Kim did not treat the men or women differently on set. We were all treated with great respect.”

And slowly the interrogation turned towards “Human” and Kim’s often dark and graphically sexual oeuvre. “Do you need violence to make art?” he was asked. “There’s a safety aspect… and a question of respect for cast and crew,” Kim said.

“Human” sees Kim push his characters to the limit in an examination of people’s will to survive. It includes cannibalism and a gang rape of the last woman left on earth. “The resulting child is not the child of any one of them, but the child necessary to keep humanity going. That makes her the mother of humanity,” Kim suggested.

Asked to account for the darkness in many Korean films, Kim metamorphized, emerging more as victim than misogynistic actress beater. “There have been two traumatic incidents in recent Korean history. The Japanese occupation of Korea and the Korean War. Many directors carry this trauma with them. My father was a Korean War veteran, injured four times and bedridden. I had to live with that,” Kim said.

Next Kim explained that he had originally wanted to shoot “Human” on a grand, biblical scale, but was tripped up by a lack of finances. Apparently, he sought Korean and American finance, but came up short. In the end, “Human” was made on a budget of $200,000. “Had I had a greater budget, I might have shown pigs and a lion, but I had to settle for chickens and eggs,” said Kim.

The press conference ended with Kim grateful, contrite and maybe ready for another round. Having thanked the Berlinale for inviting him back after a 14-year absence, he turned to the assembled media. “Thank you for your interest. I feel your concern about violence. You should know that I don’t actually live my life like my films.”

More Film

  • Brie Larson Takes On 'Beat Saber'

    Brie Larson Takes On 'Beat Saber' With Jimmy Fallon

    “Avengers: Endgame’s” Brie Larson took to “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” to play around in virtual reality. After chatting with Fallon about the upcoming Marvel superhero flick, Larson got hooked up with an HTC Vive with the talk show hit to give “Beat Saber” a try. Fallon was first up, who played through a [...]

  • Martin Scorsese's 'Rolling Thunder' Bob Dylan

    Martin Scorsese's 'Rolling Thunder' Bob Dylan Doc Hits Netflix June 12 (EXCLUSIVE)

    You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows, but Bob Dylan fans have been waiting for some kind of reliable forecast to know when “Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese” might be rolling in. Here’s that storm alert: Netflix will be releasing the documentary June 12. [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    Box Office: 'Avengers: Endgame' Racks Up Massive $169 Million Globally

    “Avengers: Endgame” is barreling toward a record-eviscerating weekend after opening to a mighty $169 million in its initial day of global release. That heroic haul includes a $107.5 million debut in China, an $8.4 million launch in South Korea, a $7 million bow in Australia and a $6 million day one in France. All in, [...]

  • Phyllida Lloyd’s ‘Herself’ Adds Cast, Cornerstone

    Phyllida Lloyd’s ‘Herself’ Adds Cast, Cornerstone Boards Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

    Cornerstone Films has boarded sales on “Herself,” the female-driven movie from “Mamma Mia!” and “The Iron Lady” helmer Phyllida Lloyd. Irish actor Clare Dunne, who starred in Lloyd’s all-female theater production of “Henry IV,” will play a single mother determined to build her own home with a free online plan, rebuilding her life in the [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    How the Avengers Became Such a Marvel in China

    “Avengers: Endgame” is on the fast track to becoming Hollywood’s most successful title ever in China, having already raked in RMB1 billion ($148 million) in just 45 hours – more than the Chinese earnings for “Wonder Woman” and “Once Upon a Deadpool” combined. It made as much in a single hour as the entire opening [...]

  • Todd Phillips

    Why 'Hangover' Director Todd Phillips Keeps Coming Back to His Favorite DP, Lawrence Sher

    “That’s my guy Larry,” says director Todd Phillips upon learning that Variety has selected his favorite DP, Lawrence Sher, as a billion-dollar cinematographer. The duo have worked together on a half dozen films, including all three installments of the “Hangover” franchise, “Due Date,” “War Dogs” and the upcoming “Joker,” with Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De [...]

  • Lawrence Sher Cinematographer

    Cinematographer Lawrence Sher Shoots Smash Comedies and Big Blockbusters Alike

    For cinematographer Lawrence Sher, the focus has always been on the director. That philosophy has carried Sher’s imagery to millions of filmgoers, including his latest work set to hit screens this year: “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” directed by Michael Dougherty, and “Joker,” directed by Todd Phillips, who has also collaborated with Sher on all [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content