Novice Film Director Invited to Cannes

      May 24, 2013 08:21

      Moon Byoung-gon

      A short film by a promising young Korean director has been invited to this year's Cannes film festival, which opened last week and wraps up this weekend. Moon Byoung-gon's "Safe" is one of nine films entered in the Short Films Competitions after the list was whittled down from 3,500 submissions from 132 countries.

      Moon said he decided to embark on his career in filmmaking after he saw veteran director Im Kwon-taek appear on a TV program when he was a freshman at university in 2001. Inspired by what Im had achieved through his lifetime, as well as the longevity of his career, Moon decided to change his major to film directing.

      "I was very impressed. It's hard to find a secure job to see you through your twilight years in Korea these days, even if you work for a big company and hold a decent degree. But there seemed to be no set retirement age for a film director," said Moon. It was not until later that he learned Im is fairly unique in the country for having remained active until such a ripe age.

      For "Safe," Moon spent W3 million from his pocket and got a W5 million grant from a local film foundation. He then spent four days with a small production crew to make the 13-minute short feature.

      When the editing was complete, he sought to have it accepted at as many festivals as possible. "As a director, I have a certain responsibility to those who helped me make this. I felt as though I had to give it my best shot to get it widely circulated," he said.

      "Safe" is set in an illegal gambling den and revolves around three characters, a woman who works there, a gambling addict and the parlor owner. "I wanted to illustrate the irony hidden in human desire or vanity, which makes people dabble in gambling as they harbor vain dreams of hitting the jackpot, but end up being enslaved by it," Moon said

      Before the invitation to Cannes arrived, he worked part-time for an entertainment company in hope of broadening his film knowledge, but spent most of his time on menial tasks like changing light bulbs and fixing chairs.

      He also got an internship at a large company and applied to a few advertising agencies, but failed to land a job. "I studied film directing because I didn't want to be a typical salary man, but after graduating, reality sunk in and I changed my mind because I needed to make ends meet," he said.

      "I applied to many companies, but they weren't interested in me, maybe because I don't fit easily into those kind of hierarchical organizations," he joked. "That was probably led me to do this [career]."

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