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Finishing touches being put to the documentary Okhwan


- Slovak director Marek Mackovič is preparing to wrap the five-year-long work on his directorial debut

Finishing touches being put to the documentary Okhwan
An image from the promotional material for Okhwan

Slovak director Marek Mackovič is about to finish the feature documentary Okhwan, a portrait of peace activist Okhwan Yoon, whom he has been following since 2009. The former businessman from Seoul decided to leave his career behind him to reunify North and South Korea. The cycling freedom fighter went on a ten-year odyssey, passing though 192 countries while surviving car crashes, kidnappings, acute hypothermia and malaria, among other misfortunes, all for the sake of his quest. The shoot for the eponymous documentary wrapped in August 2014, and it is currently in the editing room at the fine-cut stage, where “certain minor changes might occur, considering the editing, the sound mix and the colour grading are yet to be finished,” the director reveals to Cineuropa.

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“I was sitting at the airport contemplating my next project – something that would really inspire people,” Mackovič recalls, “when a man approached me and asked if I could take a photo of him. We started talking, and all of a sudden I got my next project. That man was Okhwan Yoon.” The Slovak director contacted a friend in Los Angeles to tell him about his plan. He suggested that he try the Life in a Day [+see also:
film profile
project, a user-generated feature documentary directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald, and produced by Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions and YouTube. In the end, Okhwan’s segment made it into the mosaic of snapshots from all over the globe, preserving 24 July 2010 for future generations. In total, 80,000 clips were submitted. Okhwan became the star of the documentary, while Macdonald considered the segment one of the project’s main building blocks. Mackovič admits that the feat boosted interest in his project and garnered new contacts.

In the past, Mackovič has collaborated with seasoned filmmakers such as Agnieszka Holland, Jon Avnet, Michael Haneke and John Moore, and has produced both feature films and documentaries. Okhwan is his directorial debut and is produced by Tomáš Kaminský, of independent production company Mandala Pictures, Filmpark Production, Radio and Television Slovakia and the UK’s Tarian Films Ltd. The project received support from the Slovak Audiovisual Fund. As for the distribution, the director hopes for a festival run before the theatrical release in Slovakia, which should happen “at best around the summer; however, a precise date will be decided upon with the domestic distributor,” he concludes. 

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