Interview with Filmmaker Hyelim Kim (DANSANG – THE CITY)

DANSANG – THE CITY played to rave reviews at the August 2021 EXPERIMENTAL Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

During the pandemic, musicians like myself found that there was no outlet for us to perform to, which started me reevaluating what is the ‘stage’ that we crave so much to perform on (‘Dansang’ means stage in Korean). At the same time I was assessing my existential position as an East Asian artist working in cosmopolitan London, a place that can be lonely, rewarding, alienating, inspiring and beautiful, all at the same time.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

Around 3 months, most of it spent on discussions with choreographer Maria Koripas and to a slightly lesser extent on physically learning this new ‘movement’ language. We were somewhat restricted by the pandemic, but also forced by it to speed up the process in other ways.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Movement. Sound.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The location that we chose to work in (where we deliberately did not rehearse at) was full of unexpected elements, in terms of sound, space, atmosphere and weather. The challenge was to interact and work with these elements that are fluctuating, which was intentional but nonetheless an obstacle.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I was particularly glad that the message and emotions of the film were able to be communicated to the audience, despite there being no dialogue at all. I believe that sounds and movements have a communicative power of their own, albeit different from words but not necessarily less effective.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I have always wanted to explore alternative platforms for music performance, and film is an art form that I feel a deep connection to. Using film also resolves the problem of not needing to travel to actual locations to perform and connect with the audience – it may be the answer to a more sustainable method of disseminating music and visual images at the same time.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Babette’s Feast

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are your feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

It was a very convenient way to submit to festivals, and the platform was generally easy to use.

9. What is your favorite meal?

Gimbap (Korean rice rolls)

10. What is next for you? A new film?

Next month I will be premiering a taegum (Korean flute) concertino specially written for me, at Montpelier and then Theatre du Chatelet in Paris. Later in the year we are planning to film visuals for another taegum piece composed for me by an Australian composer, most likely on location at Highgate Cemetery.

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