YIDFF 2005 BORDERS WITHIN—What It Means to Live in Japan
Red Tengi
An Interview with Kim Duk-chul (Cinematographer)

Films Are Meant to Be Screened

Q: I heard that this film was your debut as a cinematographer, but what are your thoughts about the extremely long postponement of the film’s premier?

KD: This was my first real feature film in 35mm. Last year I told some people involved with YIDFF that “there’s this film Red Tengi that has been shelved at the developing lab for twenty-five years,” and as a result a new print was made and it was screened at this festival. As a crew member I am truly delighted, and in that respect I am grateful to the festival. I think director Lee Hak-in is probably smiling in the other world too. I saw it for the first time in twenty-five years, and found it to be a powerful film. I think it would be difficult to make a film like this now, and if possible, I’d like to see it screened in movie theaters as well.

This film depicts the case in which zainichi Korean Lee Deuk-hyun was falsely accused as the main suspect in the Marusho case, and was imprisoned for twenty-two years. It would be a terrible thing if you, or someone close to you, were falsely accused of murder and then imprisoned for some twenty years. I think the film did a good job of capturing the way it broke up a family. It’s a masterpiece among the three works shot by director Lee Hak-in.

Q: Have the reasons obstructing the film’s public release been resolved?

KD: At that time, there was an effort underway to appeal for a retrial. The people involved in the movement opposed the release of the film, since they thought it would be a big hindrance to winning the retrial. They were very concerned that if the film too openly asserted that Lee Deuk-hyun had been falsely accused, it would give the court a bad impression and make the retrial impossible. Probably they were being hypersensitive. Another bad thing was that there wasn’t adequate dialogue between Lee Hak-in, who was also producer, and the people involved in the effort to appeal the case. Even though both parties shared the same goals, they were taking different approaches and couldn’t get on the same wavelength. It was too bad that the conflict couldn’t be resolved.

So what happened next was that they lost the right to appeal, the suspect Lee Deuk-hyun passed away, the main representative of the relief association passed away, and director Lee Hak-in passed away too. All of the interested parties passed away, the retrial is all over, and in a sense the case itself is shrouded in darkness, with Lee Deuk-hyun still there as the murder suspect.

Most of the people have passed away, but the film remains. I think it’s very significant that the film has made its appearance in the world after twenty-five years. I hope the film can be useful in that sense. It so happens that right now there’s talk about reforming the judiciary, and I think perhaps the film can be useful for thinking about the issues. So, I hope this film is screened and the necessary reforms get implemented, so that there aren’t more cases of false accusations.

Q: There’s the long hand-held shot.

KD: Does it give a kind of documentary touch? I certainly had determination. I felt like the camera angle was really precise. Shooting the night scene of the running truck was difficult. We had to make it look like the vehicle was running, and create rain effects that looked realistic, all without a budget. I was amazed to discover that’s how I filmed twenty-five years ago.

(Compiled by Kato Takanobu)

Interviewers: Kato Takanobu, Kato Hatsuyo
Photography: Sakuma Harumi / Video: Sato Akari / 2005-10-12