March 28 - April 1st 2007 official website
- Homage to Park Chan Wook (South Korea) 9 films - the "asian Gus Van Sant"
- Homage to James Lee (Malaysia) 5 films - almost the "asian Bresson", young promising chinese talent based in Malaysia.
- 3 documentaries on sports in North Korea, by Daniel GORDON (the only filmmaker allowed to export cinema outside N. Korea)
- Bruno Barde (Artistic director of the Deauville festival)
- Jean-Pierre Dionnet (Video editor for popular asian movies, who introduced Kitano, Miyazaki, Johnny To, Kim Ki-duk to the West)
- Pierre Rissient (critic, filmmaker, festival curator, discovered Eric Khoo, Lino Brocka, King Hu, and helped Lester James Peries, HHH, Edward Yang, Hong Sang-soo)
Here are my notes, rough transcript of the conversation (if you're interested in following the talk in French with the audio file)
- P. Rissient : in 1975 he restored for the Cannes Festival the director's cut of King HU's Touch of Zen (1973), which was a commercial and critical bomb. Brings Lino Brocka's Insiang (1976) in Cannes in 1978.
Showed a film by LEE Han-sang to WANG Bing (West of Tracks) who said it was the most mandarin film he saw.
James LEE (Things We Do When We Fall In Love) is part of a chinese trend of young cinema in Kuala-Lumpur, Malaysia, with HO Yuhang (Sanctuary) or TAN Chui Mui (Love Conquers All).
- J-P Dionnet : lots young Hong Kong filmmakers look now towards mainland China, a market opening to violent movies. Tsui Hark, John Woo, Ringo Lam return from Hollywood to work in China. Hideo Nakata says he lost 5 years of his life in Hollywood. Friedkins said, upon watching Nakata's film, he's a master of fear, it's more frieghtening than The Exorcist, which used more grandilocant ways.
- J-P Dionnet : Odd inspiration of the new asian generation from the popular european cinema, maybe unacademic. Mamoru Oshii's favorite film is Kawalerowicz's Mother Joan of the Angels (1961). PARK Chan-wook projected Chabrol's Le Boucher (1970) during shooting of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002). John WOO's slow-mo were inspired by Lelouch's Un Homme et Une Femme (1966), and the idea of trio protagonists is from Robert Enrico.
- P. Rissient : SHIN Sang-ok's lost film, Arch of Chastity, (restored for Cannes Classic 2007).
- B. Barde : Festival jury members, especially in France, aren't enthused by asian cinema in general, and need to be convinced, seduced more. While asian cinema is the most inventive today, succeeding in festivals around the world.
Only 38 asian films officialy distributed in theatres in 2006 (5 % on a total 700 films distributed in France) = 1% of total audience.
- M. Ciment says French filmmakers are attracted by Asia. Benoit Jacquot filmed in India, Olivier Assayas in Hong Kong.
- J-P. Dionnet : cultural barrier between the West and Asia. We don't understand the mix of genres, the rhythm. Pang's Re-Cycle (at Cannes 2006) about the culture of abortion in China (for a male heir desired by families) dealt with the memory of these forgotten "lost" babies, while the West misinterpretated it as a pro-life film. The asian culture has its own aesthetical referents so should be explained to western audience.
- M. Ciment : The first and only asian film awarded a Palme D'Or in Cannes was Farewell My Concubine (1993). While Venice awarded Rashomon in 1951, and continues to celebrate asian cinema. French and European audience for asian films is not as wide as it should.
- P. Rissient : HHH (only popular success is City of Sadness because of the Golden Lion) and Tsai Ming-liang have a very small audience at home in Taiwan. Jia Zhang-ke only begins to be projected in China with a small audience. Auteurist cinema in Korea beguins to struggle (Hong Sang-soo, Im Song-soo, Im Kwon-taek). Im Kwon-taek's Seopyeonje sold 1 milion admissions in 1992 (record breaking before the new soar of Korean market). Lee Chang-dong's Peppermint Candy in 2000 (700,000). Bong Joon-ho's The Host in 2006 (15 milion, record to date). Then Park Chan-wok I'm a Cyborg, but that's ok in 2007 makes 700,000 and is considered a bomb because his previous films made 3 or 4 milion admissions, because of a new culture of blockbuster in Korea. Korean auteurs struggle because actors refuse to work with non-bankable directors.
- J-P Dionnet : Kitano was despised in Japan until he received a Golden Lion in Venice, and could then make a career at home. Miike went from direct-to-video to theatre distribution thanks to his European fame. Kyioshi Kurosawa's films have more success in Europe than in Japan. The auteurist asian cinema in Japan, Taiwan or Korea is essentially supported by its European success.
- P. Rissient : Korean producers irrealistically want to mimic Hollywood big budget debauchery. Actors are overpaid.
- B. Barde : Dangerous economical inflation in Asian cinema. Kurosawa's last films were supported by USA or France production (Anatole Dauman, Serge Silberman). Asian distributors ask for excessive fees just because the film was selected in a major international festival in Europe. The major French distributors who know the market prices make a pass. The big films end up with small distributors that postpone distribution for years because they don't have the budget to market them appropriately. While the internet-savvy fans know very well how old is the movie. Fans can't maintain the original excitation so long. Fans wants the fresh movies.
- P. Rissient : international distributors for asian exports ignore the reality of the market prices and hold back releases because of high prices. Like for Hong Sang-soo's Woman on The Beach, still not distributed in France, despite the friendly support of Marin Karmitz (who distributed his last 3 films with success) who proposed to buy the film before its production, an offer too small was turned down. [Which explains why I still haven't seen this film, while usually Hong's film were released every year after Cannes] His new film will be in Cannes this year and will compete in theatres with the previous one. Hong Sang-soo is like Rohmer, needs a release with 2 years apart to let the audience wants for more.
- J-P Dionnet : Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983), and the japanese new wave was supported by European funds. There should be a better cooperation between Asia and Europe or USA if it wasn't about absurd market prices and regulations/quotas, treaties, institutional disagreement to define the nationality of the production of a film. Korea wanted to sell Samsung and Hyundai to the USA, thus agreed to drop the cinema quotas (that protected national films).
- P. Rissient : KOFIC subsidies ($400,000), unchanged, didn't go up with the market boom so is not a significant help for production anymore.
Okay Harry, you've really piqued my interest with teh mention of James Lee and Bresson...have you seen his film(s)? What's the similarity? He sounds like someone to keep an eye out for...
I'm curious too. Unfortunately I haven't seen anything yet. I wasn't at the Deauville festival. I hope we'll get some screenings coming to Paris soon.
I also think the comparison between James Lee and Bresson is very interesting. I have seen only one film by James Lee. It’s called THE BEAUTIFUL WASHING MACHINE. After I saw it, it reminded me of Tsai Ming-Liang, because of its stillness. But when I read here that James Lee was compared to Bresson, this reminded me of the film’s minimal dialogue, minimal acting, minimal set decoration, minimal movement, and the theme of human alienation. No matter how close or far he is to Bresson, I can confirm that he and his group of Malaysian directors are really the ones to watch.
My friend wrote a comment on THE BEAUTIFUL WASHING MACHINE here:
I also saw The Beautiful Washing Machine a few years ago, and liked very much, and it also reminded me a lot of Tsai Ming-liang for the same reasons.
I also saw I'm a Cyborg, but that's ok by Park Chan Wook, and was rather disappointed by it, actually same as The Host and the latest Hong Sang-soo's, but I thought that The Old Garden by Im Sang-soo was more interesting. It was premiered in France at the Asian Cinema Festival of Tours which happened a couple days before Deauville and where I presented some independent Chinese documentaries :-).
I don't remember who compared him to Bresson, I guess it was Bruno Barde when he talked about the various retrospectives at the festival.
I'm glad celinejulie and Ouyang Feng saw one of his films. Thanks for teh review, it definitely sounds like my type of cinema. :)
Does it mean Tsai is also Bressonian?
I didn't think much of The Old Garden... too classic, in a lazy/uninventive way.
I entirely disliked The President's Last Bang and A Good Lawyer's Wife, which both were to me annoying and boring so, to me, The Old Garden was better handled and the historical background was done in a more "appealing" way.
As for Woman on the Beach by Hong Sang-soo, not only it starts to be too redundant (same type of films but even more conventional) and it's definitely his weakest films.
Concerning I'm a Cyborg, but that's Ok, I've always been mixed with Park's films, only liked JSA: Joint Security Area and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, I found the others I saw too overdone, and his latest one, 1 hour and 45 minutes of "crazy" people did my brain after a while and lost interest.
Yes, I'm sure you'd like My Beautiful Washing Machine.
Thanks for the notes, Mr. Tuttle.
It'll take some time to digest them all (much good info!), but I've started.
Thanks for taking the time to type them up.
I’m not an expert on Tsai and Bresson, but I think one of the main differences between them is that Tsai is more romantic, while Bresson might be more pessimistic. And I think that while the style or film techniques used in THE BEAUTIFUL WASHING MACHINE might remind me of Tsai, it still is not a romantic film, but it represents some cruel human natures. I think some characters in Tsai’s movies long for human touch, while Bresson’s films and THE BEAUTIFUL WASHING MACHINE make me afraid of human.
Yeah I didn't like A Lawyer's wife either, but I haven't seen President's Last Bang. The riots are well filmed in his latest, but I didn't like the useless flashbacks.
Thanks for the support Pacze Moj. The audio files is offline now... and my notes alone are quite dry, I know.
Thanks for the details celinejulie, I'm really looking forward to seeing this film, it's sounds like midway from Bresson to Tsai. But I'm wondering about his visual signature especially. Does he cut in close ups a lot like Bresson?
I'm afraid I can't answer your question, Harrytuttle, because I can't remember the details of this film's visual style now. I have to see it again before I can answer your question.:-)
I can remember only the storytelling, and I think the story of THE BEAUTIFUL WASHING MACHINE is much easier to follow than the stories in Bresson's later films.
Thank you for your quick reply celinejulie. :)
I hope we can talk about it soon when they finally distribute it worldwide for all cinephiles.
"I’m not an expert on Tsai and Bresson, but I think one of the main differences between them is that Tsai is more romantic, while Bresson might be more pessimistic."
Well Bresson and I would quibble with the word "pessimistic." ;) Bresson preferred "lucid."
I'm actually not so sure that I would compare those filmmakers very much. Even on the surface, Tsai is more about temps morts and contemplation than Bresson's abbreviated, elliptical pacing. Tsai's romanticism is also a major difference.
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