YIDFF 2013 New Asian Currents
Summer Days in Bloom
An Interview with Roh Eun-ji, Go U-jung (Director)

The Challenge of Loving Someone

Q: Watching your film, I found myself drawn into its very unconventional subject matter.

Go U-jung (GU): This film had its start in a text message I received from Gabriel telling me that he had found a boyfriend, and I expected this to be the beginning of a happy love story. At first, we intended to make a film about the romance between Gabriel and Du-yeol, but as we delved deeper under the surface, their different ways of life and the issues that each of them faced began to come to the fore. Then they started to have problems and clash with each other, and the film ended up being an unvarnished account of their struggle to maintain their relationship. The way they had loved each other, and the way they kept their relationship alive became the main issue, and this was also a very good subject for a documentary.

Q: What sort of changes occurred in the time between the film’s conception and its completion?

Roh Eun-ji (RE): We initially began filming with the idea that we’d follow Gabriel and his life. At first glance, the theme of this film seems to be “love,” but as you continue to watch, you realize that it doesn’t end there. We were particularly interested in showing why Du-yeol found himself unable to adjust to life in the rooftop room. We became aware that we needed to understand him, and the focus of the film gradually shifted towards documenting the way that he changed. Understanding Du-yeol’s identity was important for his relationship with Gabriel and also for the film.

Q: I got the impression that the film title—Summer Days in Bloom—was a reference to the feelings between Gabriel and Du-yeol.

RE: The Korean title is actually very different from the English one—it translates as “Passion in a Rooftop Room.” The “in bloom” of the English title of course alludes to the blooming of a flower, but it also connotes a warm atmosphere, and vast expanses of air and space. In other words, Summer Days in Bloom represents the same thing that “passion” does in the Korean title, which is the intense time that these two very passionate individuals spent together.

Q: Your film shows that even if two people need each other, they may still find it difficult to be in a relationship. In your director’s statement in the film festival catalog, you pose the following three questions: “Can they love each other? Can they be together? Can they begin anew?” As the directors of this film, what do you think the answers to these questions are?

RE: During the filming, these questions never left our minds. You probably noticed that Gabriel and Du-yeol have entirely different personalities and temperaments. They fought whenever they were together, and in some ways, they seemed basically incompatible, which is why we asked these three questions of their relationship during the filming. But after finishing the film, these questions seemed to apply more to the issue of whether they would be able to find someone else to love, and whether each of them would once again be able to begin a new life. I think that appearing in this film was especially good for Du-yeol. As a friend, I think I can say that he is now more inclined to question and reflect upon himself than he was before.

GU: Following their lives gave us plenty to think about, but even now that the film has been completed, these questions have yet to be answered. Gabriel and Du-yeol have watched this film, which gave them a chance to look back on themselves, and I think they will keep asking themselves these three questions as they continue to contemplate what life is all about.

(Compiled by Nishiyama Ayuka)

Interviewers: Nishiyama Ayuka, Yamazaki Shiori / Interpreter: Nemoto Rie / Translator: Kato Lisa Somers
Photography: Kusunose Kaori / Video: Nakata Ryo / 2013-10-13