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South Korea's Bong Joon-ho: 'I don't trust myself' as a director

South Korea's Bong Joon-ho: 'I don't trust myself' as a director
Director Bong Joon-ho said Thursday that he is filled with doubt and anxiety when making a film, offering those remarks during a panel discussion at the 26th Busan International Film Festival. Photo by Yonhap

BUSAN, South Korea, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- He is one of South Korea's most acclaimed directors and a household name around the globe, but Bong Joon-ho said Thursday that making films remains a nerve-wracking experience.

"The whole process of making my films is an expression of anxiety," Bong said during a panel discussion at the 26th Busan International Film Festival, which runs through Oct. 15.

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"I'm anxious every moment. I'm always trying to find the exit, trying to figure out how I can escape the moment," he said.

The auteur, whose 2019 Parasite became the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, was responding to an audience member who asked if he had any weaknesses as a director.

After more than two decades behind the camera, Bong said that he constantly worries if the choices he makes will resonate with audiences.

"For the subject matter or the emotions I want to get across, [I wonder if] should I say this in the film?" he said in translated remarks. "Even though I desperately want to explain these stories to the audience, maybe people would not be interested.

"I am anxious about every single decision I make, because I don't trust myself."

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The South Korean director said that once a film reaches the editing and post-production process, he is able to look at it more dispassionately.

"There's a moment when the shooting is done and it's beyond my control," he said. "When the film has left me, then I don't really fear the anxiety anymore."

The 52-year-old made the comments during a one-on-one discussion with Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi, who is showing a pair of highly praised films at this year's festival: Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, which won the Silver Bear Prize at the Berlin film fest, and Drive My Car, awarded best screenplay at Cannes.

Hamaguchi, 42 admitted that he feels very much the same as his fellow director when he's behind the lens.

"I'm like-minded," Hamaguchi said. "I am a collection of anxieties."

The director said that he has acquired a number of strategies to try to compensate for his worries when making a film.

"I put a lot of effort into securing more time [to shoot the film]," he said. "I rehearse actors over and over again."

Their discussion was part of an expanded slate of in-person events at this year's festival, which is screening 223 films from 70 countries.

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Bong is not showing any new work, but South Korea's most prominent filmmaker has been a notable presence at the festival so far. He also appeared at Wednesday's opening ceremony, at which he awarded veteran director Im Kwon-taek the Asian Filmmaker of the Year prize.

The film world still awaits confirmation of Bong's next release. He previously teased a handful of upcoming projects, including an English-language Parasite series for HBO and a Korean full-length animated film about deep-sea creatures.

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