Boomerang Family closed the London stage of the festival, before a select number of movies then tour the country. And a fine choice to showcase how exciting the country’s cinema can be.
Revolving around a sixty-something woman and her dysfunctional brood, Boomerang Family is a family drama, slapstick comedy and crime thriller in one deliciously spicy package.
We caught up with movie’s writer and director Song Hae-sung and stars Yoon Yeo-jeong and Yun Je-mun, who play the mother and one of her son’s respectively, to talk about the film.
Electric Shadows: Could you give me one word to describe Boomerang Family?
Song Hae-sung: Boomerang Family
Yoon Yeo-jeong: (laughing) I agree!
Yun Je-mun: Moving.
ES: What can an English audience expect from Boomerang Family?
SH: It’s a film about a family’s problems. Family problems exist all over the world, not just in Korea. When I was last in the UK there was a show called Shameless which deals with a dire family, and compared to that the family in my film is quite weak!
ES: The film has a strong sense of location. Was that important for the cast to get into their characters and for the director to bring that sense of a recognisable Korea?
SH: That’s a difficult question. These types of locations not only exist in Korea, but we did want to shoot where lower classes tended to live to promote the atmosphere of the film.
The location we used was an apartment town removed from the centre of Seoul, and this is where most lower classes would be living. In places like this you can’t really shoot without the help of the locals. Luckily, we were able to receive their support and co-operation to ease the process of shooting.
ES: And has the film struck a chord with Korean audiences?
YY: Some people like and some people don’t. Like always. (laughs)
SH: The film has resonated most with older audiences, who liked the film much more than the younger generation. It might be the case in the UK as well, but the younger generation in Korea like Hollywood films more. They tend to be more distant from films that reveal inner realities and prefer films with fantasy elements over realism.
ES: One for Ms Yoon and Mr Yun. What attracted you to the characters and did you have any input into them or were they as written?
YY: In my case, I usually play the strong character, but this one is not strong, she’s more of a typical Korean mother. I’ve worked with Mr Yun twice, this is my second time with him and so I enjoyed very much being with him. Both Mr Yun and Mr Park (Hae-il), who play my sons in the film, are both very good actors in Korea and I envy and admire them. That was the point of the film for me.
YJ: The script was incredibly funny and this was my first time working with director Song Hae-sung, so I decided to participate.
ES: On that note, the film is funny, but also dramatic and at times quite violent. Is that a challenge to make a film balancing those different moods?
SH: I don’t think challenge is the right word. I wanted to make a film that was unsophisticated and crass to see if such a film would have an impact in Korea. I think the film is quite unsophisticated, there aren’t many close ups for example and it shares characteristics with films made in the 90s and early 2000s.
To shoot such a film in this style required quite a lot of bravery and I wanted to see how it would fit into Korean cinema right now.
YY: (to the translator) You made it fancy with “unsophisticated”. Director Song said he liked to make the film “corny”!
ES: Has it had the impact you hoped for?
SH: Half successful, half failure!
ES: The film made me feel very hungry because of the amount of food in it. Did the cast and crew eat well during filming?
ES: Mr Yun, your character Han-mo is in some ways the comic relief of the movie but also does things that could alienate an audience. Did you work to make Han-mo likeable or were you not worried about how he would be received?
YJ: No, I didn’t approach the character in that way, I just thought I should do it. So, that’s what I did when it came to filming, I just went for it.
ES: Did the loose feel of filmmaking extend to the acting? Was there the freedom to improvise?
SH: Yes definitely, I wanted to film that way, so I had to trust and rely on the actors a lot here.
ES: The director of the Cannes Film Festival called Korean cinema “the most dynamic national cinema”. What do you think makes Korean cinema so dynamic?
YY: The people. The people are very dynamic, passionate and emotional.
SH: I agree, so in order to resonate with Korean audiences and infiltrate the psyche we have to make films in that way. Also, we shoot with small budgets but have to attract a big audience which forces us to become more dynamic in the way we tell stories.
The Korean Film Festival is touring the country until Friday 22nd November.
Click here for details.
The Boomerang Family will be released in the UK in 2014 through Third Window Films.