[HanCinema's News] June This Year Dominated by First-time Directors
By William Schwartz | Published on
In part due to the shake-up caused by COVID-19 earlier this year, when the box office reopened in June a curious coincidence had taken place. A disproportionate numbers of films, including three of the four major releases and the best performing independent film, all came from first-time directors.
The exact reasons for this vary quite a bit on a film by film basis. In the case of "Innocence", for example, director Park Sang-hyun-III already had a fair amount of production experience, his most noteworthy credit being as the producer of "Big Match" from 2014. The mystery legal thriller "Innocence" was in his case the culmination of many years of work building up the connections necessary to write and direct his own film.
"Me and Me" director Jung Jin-young also had a lifetime of experience to work with- but as an actor, not a crewperson. And with more South Korean actors making successful bids to write and direct their own films, Jung Jin-young had a strong argument to that effect with his long-time reputation as a sturdy reliable hand on the acting end. "Me and Me" was also, like "Innocence", a mystery thriller, and relatively easy to pitch.
"Baseball Girl" comes from a very different backdrop compared to these films, as writer/director Choi Yun-tae shopped the somber sports film around the festival circuit. "Baseball Girl" stars Lee Joo-young as a stubborn teenage pitcher who refuses to give up on her dream of playing on a professional baseball team. "Baseball Girl" eschews a underdog story in favor of a highly realistic approach, and has inspired intense interest from viewers in spite of a weak marketing campaign.
And lastly, "#ALIVE", had its own peculiar production history for writer/director Cho Il-hyeong. The depiction of a zombie apocalypse inside an apartment complex was loosely based on the as-yet unreleased American movie Alone which finished filming last year. "#ALIVE" came to fruition quickly as the team-up between the relevant Korean and American studios successfully pitched Yoo Ah-in and Park Shin-hye for the lead roles, putting Cho Il-hyeong on the fast track as well.
Written by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.