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CPH:DOX 2020 CPH:DOX Industry

Frederik Sølberg y Sara Stockmann • Director y productora de Hana Korea

"Lo que nos interesa es la persona que llega a la luna"


- Cineuropa ha entrevistado a Frederik Sølberg y Sara Stockmann, el dúo que prepara Hana Korea, que se ha llevado el Premio Eurimages al Desarrollo de la Coproducción en el CPH:DOX

Frederik Sølberg y Sara Stockmann  • Director y productora de Hana Korea

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

For the seventh time, CPH:FORUM and Eurimages awarded €15,000 for the best pitch, this time presented online to jurors Nino Kirtadze, Salma Abdalla and Malin Hüber. “It reflects in one person the universal search for the sense of belonging,” they said of Hana Korea, directed by Frederik Sølberg and produced by Sara Stockmann, of Denmark’s Sonntag Pictures, which will follow a North Korean refugee learning to live in South Korea. We talked to the director and producer to find out more about their intentions.

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Cineuropa: Due to the pandemic, this year the winner was determined based on one-to-one meetings. Did it feel very different?
Sara Stockmann:
I think it created a different atmosphere. When you present your project on stage in front of 200 people, you get an immediate response – unlike when you enter someone’s living room. Still, everyone wanted to make it work; everyone was prepared and focused. There is something you miss, as you don’t get to show your work to your colleagues, and I get inspired seeing other presentations. There is always one that reminds me why I am doing this.

It’s a peculiar situation, and many projects will be influenced by it. Is there anything you will have to postpone?
We had originally planned some shootings in April, but because Frederik’s method is a bit unorthodox, with many fictionalised scenes, we are not being deprived of something crucial. In Denmark, we have our film funds and broadcasters that are not compromised by what’s going on. There is a willingness to help the film business so that it doesn’t implode during this crisis.

Frederik Sølberg: Our film is mainly based on research and the interview with the main character. Everything we are going to shoot is staged, so we can plan ahead. It would be different if I was supposed to follow her with the camera and I couldn’t do it for another two months. There are parts of this story that we simply wouldn’t be able to tell if it were a fly-on-the-wall documentary. Our focus is on that person, landing on the moon. We can elaborate on her transformation. When I was showing my debut film, Doel, some said they didn’t know if it was a documentary or a fiction. I guess it’s my way of working.

What started this fascination with Korea, or rather Koreas, and the desire to tell a story about someone in between?
I went to South Korea ten years ago and learnt how this division is influencing people. Then I read about the Hanawon centre, where the government puts North Korean refugees for three months and teaches them how to become South Koreans. It includes everything from teaching them about democracy and human rights to showing them how to use the internet or an ATM machine. There is a whole ministry for reunification, and you can find contact details for all the departments – except this one. There have been some cases of espionage, and they don’t want to talk about what they do there. It’s a bit like school, or a camp where you re-programme people.

It feels like a science-fiction story, bringing to mind Leeloo in The Fifth Element, as she learns about human history.
There is a lot of guilt and self-doubt, as these people risk everything without knowing if they will be happy. I think that is often the case with migration – you end up torn between two different cultures. In this case, it’s a bit more severe, as there is no chance of going back. There are all of these details, with our main character going to the make-up store, not knowing how to use any of this stuff. Her psychiatrist gave a pretty good example. They love coffee in South Korea, but in North Korea, it’s just that: coffee. Now, people ask them if they want normal milk or soy, take it away or drink here, whether they are members... It freaks them out! That’s what we want to show – there are all these philosophical questions, but then it comes down to going on the escalator for the first time.

SS: What made me fall in love with the project is this triangle of elements: journalistic research and facts, which are so important when foreigners step into a new arena, and then there is Frederik’s vision. It doesn’t matter what we call this film, but the cinematic quality and director’s signature are important. It needs to be unique if we want to fund it internationally.

It seems to have worked well at CPH:FORUM. How are you planning to use this award?
It comes at a time when it’s very useful for us. We can use it to plan our next development phase, setting up test shootings and work with our protagonist. It will allow us to make choices that will have an impact later on. It’s a huge help, also to continue our collaboration with our co-producer, Heejung Oh.

FS: It also feels pretty good to win! It’s not easy to make documentaries, and it’s not easy to fund them, so winning an award before you’ve even made one is sort of the opposite of how it usually works. Someone has already recognised what we are doing.

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