This has been a difficult blog post to write. Not that the subject matter is hard, it is more that the experience in Jecheon was one of the moments that put my life, and my work into perspective.
There will be other posts and images from my short time spent in Korea, but this entry will focus on those people that I came in contact with and helped me to see more deeply into myself and to the artistic work of others.
Our little film KRS ONE: Brooklyn to the Bronx opened the door for me to visit Korea and reason with other souls from across the planet. I was treated with respect for being a humanistic artist. I sometimes loose touch with from time to time, but the great people and the organizers of the festival helped it all to come into sharp focus.
Each of the foreign guests were assigned a bilingual (or even trilingual) volunteer to help them with interacting with those that could not speak Korean, and with any matter related to the festival and beyond. My fabulous host was, Minju.
I might as well say this now, and I am sure I can speak for the others at the festival that the core of 12 interpreter/volunteers took our foreign guests communal experience at the festival. The drivers, hosts, guides, and all hustled to make their guests feel at home.
I arrived and Minju met me at Inchon Airport and we set off for the three-hour drive to Jecheon. The first night I decided to check out the Boogie Nights outdoor event, this is where I met some of the other directors later that night. They quickly became known as the three brothers, Guillermo from Uruguay, Rodrigo from Argentina, and Matti from Finland.
Minju and David took me to the outdoor film and concert event and ordered up some of the food stall treats before entering the venue. In proper Korean culture David scooped the fresh sweet Makori rice beer for me, and I retuned the favor.
It wasn’t until the next morning that I would begin to feel my family grow with the addition of these filmmakers.
Alena, who is the subject of the film Appasionata, approached me at breakfast. I was a bit surprised that she knew who I was and wanted to talk a bit about Japan. I felt a connection with her almost immediately and knew that I had to see the documentary that was directed by Christian Lambart.
Next, Guillermo, arrived at the table with a bombilla, a gourd, and a bag of mate herb. In his joyous nature he went on to instruct me on the proper brewing techniques to make a gourd of mate tea. Rodrigo, jokingly told everyone at the table that it was Guillermo’s personal stash of marijuana. Which we all replied with a round of laughter.
I discovered that both Appasionata and Guillermo’s Solo were screening that day, and once arriving at the MegaBox Theater, Minju, booked tickets for me. Our film screened with the shorts followed by a question and answer session with a professional interpreter.
Appasionata was so moving. Alena’s gift is opening her heart to the world. She could be playing a piece of Bach or talking with her parents, she spoke truth from her heart. I was so moved at one moment in the movie. The scene hit so close to my home in Japan that it pierced my heart, and the tears streamed down my face.
This film was followed by the drama Solo. A moving look at one man’s struggle to reconnect with the musician within himself that he let grow cold so many years ago. I was surprised that such a thought provoking film could come from the young man that was keeping us all laughing at breakfast.
I related to the film because it is a struggle for me to keep in touch with my inner artist. I never would have seen either film or met the directors if it wasn’t for the JIMFF.
Alena and I went to the evening screening of the silent film The Kid Brother starting Harold Lloyd and accompanied by the amazing Philip Carla. It was a great cathartic release to laugh communally with Alena and the rest of the outdoor audience. Carla’s live scoring took the event to the highest level of art and entertainment.
After the film, Alena, Philip, Matin I and sipped on some beer and talked into the night drifting between wine, music, Fukushima, and gardening. It felt wonderful to be surrounded by culture and just to be able to reason.
I was speaking with Hana about the incredible time I was having and told her that it was hard to believe that the directors were in competition for a prize. She responded saying that she had never seen the foreign guests become so friendly and hanging out together s
In addition to the wonderful international directors the Korean staff were fantastic. They made all of our time in Jecheon so special. The translators, the helpers, drivers, were superstars in their own right. I cannot thank them all from the bottom of my heart!
I could go on, but all things must come to a conclusion. The festival has reignited my artistic passion. I even began to shoot some video while wandering around the countryside. Being surrounded by such beautiful souls reached far beyond time space and the bounds of culture. I feel that my family was with all the wonderful people I encountered.
I thought I had given up on art changing the world nestled between the hills and the lake I rediscovered art’s power for change even if it is only one soul at a time.
Special shout outs to JIMFF staff:
Hana, for dealing with a multitude of technical projection issues for my crew.
Yoonsun, for my many emails back and forth, and for organizing our helpers.
Jinsu, for finding our doc at the SXSW Festival, and leading me to Korea.
Phoebe, for sharing with me her collection of shaved ice pictures.
Kim, for being the man!
Hailie, for meeting a DVC girl in Jecheon.
Eunbin, being a great host!
Sohee, providing a great dinner with all the filmmakers
Heejung, welcoming me with open arms and heart.
David, for being a great guy, and serving the good Makori wine.
Minju, she made my time not only in Jecheon, but also in Seoul so extra special. I feel like I have adopted her as my niece. Thank you so much for all that you did for me in your country!
I wish all the staff the best of luck in the future. I apologize if I left anyone out. You all are rockstars!
Rodrigo Villa, www.cinema7.com, director Mercedes Sosa: The Voice of Latin America
My Argentinian brother!
Guillermo Rocamora, director, Solo
For teaching me how to make proper mate, and his moving film Solo.
Matti Kinnunen, director, www.periferiaproductions.fi . Miss Blue Jeans
My other brother from Finland, hope to see you in Tokyo soon.
Christian Labhart, www.rinkercommunications.ch , director Appassionata
For creating a film that moved my heart and touched my soul.
Martin Le Gall, www.avalonfilms.fr director Pop Redemption
for the lovely late night conversation and beers!
Krzystof Gierat, Juror and director of the Krakow Film Festival www.krakowfilmfestival.pl
Alena Cherny, www.alencherny.ch
One very special woman. Thank you for sharing your life and the makori.
I hope very much that we can create art together.
Philip Carli, www.philipcarli.com
For bringing back part of my youth and for some stimulating reasoning.
As usual this is more of a beginning than an end. There is always more 2 come.