Newly-enthralled by the dynamism of Korean cinema, leading European filmmaker Mike Figgis is to make “Shame,” an Asian omnibus short film project with South Korean talent agency Saram Entertainment. Known for “Leaving Las Vegas” and “Timecode,” Figgis is head of the competition jury this week at the Busan International Film Festival.
“The project will be a three-part omnibus involving Asian countries, made in each country’s native languages. We are currently working with a scriptwriter for the Korean part of the project, while details about the other two parts have not yet been decided,” said Saram CEO and producer Lee So-young.
“This project started from the idea of seeing one thing differently, and then describing it from global points of view.”
According to the Korean company, “Shame” will depict various emotions of Asian people who live different lives and will present irony, pain and reconciliation that come from the indiscreetness of the world. Figgis has also described the project as flowing from the MeToo movement, and depicting a story from various points of view of a man, a woman and a K-popper.
“Mainly through Netflix, about 2 years ago I watched lots of Korean dramas. I was intrigued by the style of Korean filmmaking,” said Figgis. “So, 15 months ago I decided to buy a plane ticket to Korea and met (former Variety correspondent) Darcy Paquet, who is a good friend of Korean cinema and who’s become a sort of a teacher to me. He introduced me to Saram.”
Describing technical and linguistic challenges as spurs to creativity, Figgis explained how he intends to overcome the language barrier. “I do not speak Korean at this point in time. I realize that it is a very, very complicated language. I like that. So obviously it has to be a collaboration. I am creating and designing a team that can facilitate this in the best possible way. Language to me is beautiful. I need to trust my team, to really inform me of the nuance of language. I will be very awake,” he said.
Rising star Korean talent management company Saram Entertainment has for the past 18 months had an informal arrangement with David Unger’s AIG talent group. Last summer it signed its leading light, actress Lee Hanee to AIG for representation outside Korea. As AIG had expanded its network of international affiliates, the relationship with Saram is being firmed up.
“We were dating for a while. Now we are getting more serious,” Unger told Variety. “What we really want to do is create a bridge into and out of Korea’s amazingly dynamic market.”
Lee (Hanee), who represented Saram Entertainment with CEO-producer Lee (So-young) at the press event, said that her mission as a Korean actress that aims for the global market is to bring her Korean-specific characteristics to the world.
“While cultural characteristics of Japan and China are already well known to the world, there are not many people who can describe the Korean culture. In that sense, I believe that we should bring Korean-ness to the global market,” said Lee. “While managing Lee Hanee, I have agonized less over where [in the world] to launch her and more over how we can share Korean values with the rest of the world.
Lee Hanee’s next major acting commitment is in “Klaus 47,” understood to be a 4-part fact-based series about the Taiwanese lobbyist involved in France’s Elf bribery scandal.
“My next project would be Kim Jee-woon’s Korea-France co-production that involves Canal Plus and Warner Bros.,” said Lee. “There will be cast and staff from both Korea and France.” Location shooting is expected to take in both countries.