Walkden Entertainment (aka Peter Walkden) had the honour and pleasure of attending the global press conference for Cobweb! We were also delighted to ask the director and writer Jee-woon Kim some questions about his new film, which is available in Australian Cinemas from October 5th.
Cobweb explores the world of filmmaking and deals with critics’ censorship and conflict among creators, which must be quite close to your life as a film director. Can you please share with us the creative origin of Cobweb?
Well, through the global pandemic, everything came to a halt, and the cinema industry was no exception.
I think that it wasn’t just me but all over the world everyone involved in the industry, including the creators, directors, actors, and everyone involved really, through COVID when everything came to a halt, I’m sure everybody, in their own way and through their own ideas really got the time to rethink about what cinema really means to them.
I’m sure everyone asked questions like What is Cinema? And what does film mean to me? And I myself, I thought about when I first fell in love with cinema, and I asked myself, What does film mean to me personally? It actually served as a time for me to really reignite and reconsider my love that I had for cinema; it gave me time to self-reflect and also self-redefine and re-establish what cinema holds in my heart.
I think that I try to show the questions that I also asked myself when I first fell in love with cinema. And I tried to ask those questions through this film Cobweb. I’m sure that all filmmakers have gone through experiences where they were met with obstacles and hindrances; they had to really break through that all filmmakers, not just in Korea but all around the world, carry that narrative with them. I wanted this to be a film that allows you to really rekindle the love that you have for cinema. Think about it once again, reassure yourself, and I think I wanted it to be sort of an encouragement to not just me but everyone who is involved in cinema all over the world to really rekindle that romance as well as encourage yourself to move even further.
So I would say this is a very delightful tale with a touch of black comedy that tells the story of this one man who breaks through that turmoil and conflict at a very destitute state.
I’m curious as to why you set the story in the 1970’s. Is it because it was a time of confusion, much like what the characters in the film go through? Or were you just drawn to the film scene of that ear?
Well, having been born in the 70s, I have a very strong nostalgia for everything that happened during the 1970s. And I believe that if you look at all of the Korean films today, at all indicates that they are very similar and akin to that of the 70’s.
When you look at the Korean film history, we went through the first renaissance in the 1960’s. And then, in the 1970s, we had state censorship and a little bit of forced production of certain establishment or government-forced movies. And so we went through quite a dark time in cinema. If you look at the numbers, we used to have about 220 films per year, that dropped drastically in the 70s to about only 100 per year. That is very similar to what the Korean cinema is currently going through after the pandemic.
Going through those dark times and a very difficult time in case cinema, I got to thinking, how did our directors or filmmakers that were senior to me how did they break through those hard times? And how did they succeed in bringing about a second renaissance? I came to really think about those things. And also what by translating the spirit that our filmmakers had at that time that allowed them to break through those hardships into my film Cobweb. These days in Korea, we often say that what’s important is the undying spirit, and I wanted to show that through the character/director Kim. I thought that looking at what happened back in the 70s, and how the second renaissance of Korean cinema was able to take place. I feel like now is a very good time to tell that story, and also I feel like it’s meaningful.
The power ensemble created through the cast’s passion and effort is an undeniable appeal the film offers, and of course, we cannot leave out the amazing and stylish Milan Fen. How does it feel to be directing an ensemble of such rich characters in the intense Milan film?
I wanted to portray and showcase a true ensemble comedy through Cobweb because I believe that I’ve seen quite a number of Hollywood films that were very well-made ensemble comedies; some recent examples would be directors in any case Don’t Look Up and I also enjoyed very much American Hustle as well. I always wanted to do something like that in Korea, where I brought together all the masters of acting and create this explosive chemistry and a perfect ensemble. I believe I was able to do that through Cobweb.
This was actually one of the things that the press thought was the strength of our film. After the press viewing, it was that it had such a strong chemistry and an ensemble comedy. I think it really goes to show that along my film career, Cobweb was the easiest time I had as a director on set because everyone was such a master of what they did in their own position, and they just did it without me having to intervene and really direct them to what to do. I was really amazed and in awe of how well they were doing their roles, and I was very moved, and I had a lot of fun set thanks to that.
What do you think fans should be looking out for when they go see the film?
I hope that through Cobweb, if there are any of you out there who have really lost your love of cinema and feel like you no longer love or care for cinema. I hope that this film will provide a chance for you to rethink about that. I also hope that it will allow you to fall back in love with cinema.