I’d like to recommend a Sight & Sound piece written by South Korean cinema expert Darcy Paquet on why there are so few South Korean female directors. The lack of female directors is a problem in all regions of the world, though it’s especially acute in East Asia. Paquet examines the challenges that are unique to South Korea.
One observation that particularly struck a chord with me was Paquet’s assertion that almost all of today’s top-level South Korean directors (Park Chan-wook, Hong sang-soo, Bong Joon-ho, Lee Chang-dong, Kim Ki-duk and Kim Jee-woon) emerged in the ’90s. Other acclaimed South Korean directors have come in their wake, including some female names, but aside from Na Hong-jin, they don’t receive much international attention.
This echoes a comment I made months ago about the lack of new major East Asian directors. Looking back, I may have painted with too broad a brush. Maybe the lack of discovery is affecting only South Korean filmmakers and not East Asians in general. In the past 24 months, we can count China’s Bi Gan, Zhao Liang and Zhang Hanyi, Japan’s Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Thailand’s Anocha Suwichakornpong as potential big names of the future.
So what I’m wondering now is this: if the South Korean New Wave has crested (and it probably has), is it because of a lack of films that would appeal to Western audiences? Or a reduced interest in discovering new South Korean filmmakers?
Here’s the rundown. One brief note: since I’m determined to create and maintain pages for all movies that open in the International Competitions of Cannes, Venice, Berlin and Locarno, I’ve added L’attesa, a movie that opened in the U.S. in April which I only recently discovered screened in last year’s Venice Competition.
Au hasard Balthazar (Bresson)
Cinema of the Past