A long-distance phone call with his wife gave critically acclaimed South Korean director Hong Sang-soo
the idea for his drama "Night and Day"
which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival on Tuesday, according to AFP.
One of four Asian entrants competing for the coveted Golden Bear award, Hong's film follows 40-something married painter Kim Sung-Nam after he leaves his wife and home to escape a minor drugs possession charge and flees to Paris. Alone in the French capital, he bumps into an old girlfriend and then falls for a young Korean painting student whom he pursues during the day, while making long, self-pitying calls to his wife at night.
Hong said the seed of the movie had been planted when he was living in New-York and made a phone call one night to his wife back in Seoul who was shopping in a supermarket atthe time.
"The moment felt very strange because I was fighting with her", Hong recalled. "We exchanged strong emotions, but she was in daytime, and I was in nighttime. We were sharing something while being very much influenced by our different time zones", he said. Kim's three-month stay in Paris is recounted in a diary style, highlighting
both banal and dramatic experiences and then jumping ahead with no reference to their impact or possible resolution. As events unfold, the initial impression of a charming rogue is swiftly displaced by that of a self-serving manipulator who uses those around him as discardable balms to soothe his feelings of personal isolation and injustice. Hong is known for allowing his actors enormous leeway to develop their characters, often holding back sections of screenplay until the actual day of shooting. Actress Park Eun-hye
, who plays the young overseas student, said she had been shocked by the reaction of some men who had seen early versions of the film.
"They didn't criticise the character of Kim at all. Personally I thought he was awful", she said. "Night and Day"
was the third Asian film to screen in competition at the Berlinale, following Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai's "In Love We Trust", and Hong Kong director Johnnie To's "Sparrow".