20th Udine Far East Film Festival: Forgotten’s Jang Hang-jun Interview

20th Udine Far East Film Festival: Forgotten’s Jang Hang-jun Interview

0 comments 📅27 April 2018, 12:50

When I was younger I mainly made comedies, but as I grew older I wanted to show human feelings that we keep inside,” South Korean filmmaker Jang Hang-jun admits as he discusses his new film Forgotten at the Udine Far East Film Festival. Focused on Jin-seok (Kang Ha-neul), an anxious 20-year-old who must face his worst fears when his brother Yoo-seok (Kim Mu-yeol) is kidnapped and returns a completely different person. Suspecting his sibling, and eventually his whole family, Jin-seok is drawn down a dark and twisted path as he learns the hard way that everything is not as it seems.

With a killer plot-twist and powerful performances from its lead cast, Forgotten is a fascinating Netflix thriller which will stay with you long after it ends. But it is Jang Hang-jun’s intricate script and subtle imagery that truly makes the film stand out, as his examination of human emotions questions what it truly means to be a victim or criminal. He has a keen eye for mystery, and it is through his lens that we are both thrilled and stunned by this intense production.

What was the inspiration for this story?

About two and a half years ago, during Christmas, I met my friends and one of them had a cousin who left home for a while but when he came back he didn’t seem the same, my friend didn’t think it was really him. So, I told him that he should look closely at his ‘cousin’ to see if he was different, it was a joke but that’s how I originally got the idea for this story. While we were drinking and joking around we kept adding to the story, we talked about how his cousin might have the same voice and face but that it wasn’t really him. Then I thought about how it would be better in a story to make him into the main character’s brother, rather than his cousin. We talked about that for two hours, and the next day I couldn’t stop thinking about it; I thought this would make a good story for a film and started to write.

It was amazing how you made us feel for Jin-seok, at first we loved him, then we were terrified and eventually we hated him. How did you build his character as a writer?

When I was a high school student I was very interested in psychology, and I read a lot of books by Freud and other experts. So, I was familiar with this topic but in preparation for this project I met with a specialist, and we went drinking to talk about this story. We had a special team from the Scientific Research Institute help us out as well. That’s how I began to build the character, but once I cast Kang Ha-neul we went through the script together and talked about his character’s different emotions one by one.

Both Kang Ha-neul and Kim Mu-yeol had the challenging task of portraying two very different characters on screen, how did you advise them as a director?

Of course, it’s very challenging for them but it was also very fun to explore multiple types of characters. In the end they didn’t feel any pressure when they took on the roles, because they really enjoyed this process. All three of us had a lot of fun talking about the characters while making the film, Kim Mu-yeol and I talked about his character’s history that wasn’t shown on screen, for example. We spoke about what life he might have had, how long he spent in the orphanage after losing his parents, and when he escaped from there – things like that.

You really got us with that one ghost scene, but why did you only have one?

*SPOILER ALERT* At first, I didn’t expect the audience to get so frightened, but the ghost is the girl that Jin-seok killed so this is part of his trauma, and he doesn’t want to remember this. That’s why he saw the ghost within his nightmare, but if I had too many ghost scenes then it would have been a horror film rather than a thriller!

*SPOILER ALERT* Why did you have that final scene where Jin-seok and Yoo-seok meet before everything went wrong? What was your intention behind this?

Throughout the film I only show the darkest moments of these two characters, so I wanted to show a brief, but happy, moment for them both. For Jin-seok it was when he was moving to a new house with his family, and for Yoo-seok it was when he was going to an amusement park with his family. Even if it was a small scene, I wanted to show that even these two characters could have a happy moment in their lives. During the final stages of editing this film I was torn between keeping the scene or taking it out, I thought a lot about what was best and I decided to keep it in. If I could edit it again, then perhaps I would cut the scene completely because I might have added too much.

Forgotten was screened as part of the 20th Udine Far East Film Festival, and is now available on Netflix.

Interview by Roxy Simons, conducted alongside Sanja Struna of View of Korean Cinema. Cover photo taken by Sanja.

Read More:

No Comments

No Comments Yet!

You can be first one to write a comment

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.