Song Il-gon

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Song Il-gon
Song Il-gon.jpg
Song Il-gon at the 2011 Busan International Film Festival
Born (1971-01-01) January 1, 1971 (age 49)
Alma materSeoul Institute of the Arts
National Film School in Łódź
OccupationFilm director,
Years active1998-present
Korean name
Revised RomanizationSong Il-gon
McCune–ReischauerSong Il-gon

Song Il-gon (born January 1, 1971) is a South Korean film director and screenwriter known for his internationally award-winning early short films, and later feature films such as Spider Forest (2004) and Feathers in the Wind (2005). Long more popular abroad than in South Korea, Song was the first Korean filmmaker to win an award at the Cannes Film Festival.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Song Il-gon was born in Seoul on January 1, 1971. He studied Fine Arts at the Seoul Institute of the Arts.[1] After graduation he applied to study film in the United States. His visa application was rejected by that country, and Song instead attended the National Academy of Film in Łódź, Poland. He was only the second Korean student to study at this institution which is known for prominent alumni such as Roman Polanski and Krzysztof Kieślowski.[1] Unable to deal with specifically Korean themes or history while in Poland, Song turned to themes influenced by psychology and Western mythology.[1]

Beginning in 1998, Song's short films began attracting international attention. Liver and Potato (1998) took its inspiration from the biblical story of Cain and Abel. The Dream of the Clowns (also 1998) was filmed at a Polish circus. Both of these films were shown at international film festivals, and both were released at short-film specialty theaters in South Korea.[2] Song became the first Korean to win an award at the Cannes Film Festival with his short film Picnic (Sopoong, 1999), which was given the Jury Prize for Best Short Film. This film was also given the Grand Prix at the Melbourne International Film Festival.[1]

Back in Korea, Song was asked by the Seoul International Media Art Biennale (Media City Seoul) to make a 50-second video clip to be screened on electronic billboards for one month. He made Flush, about a teenage girl committing abortion in a public toilet. Even though Song had actually shown the screenplay to the government before filming, the authorities censored and removed the short after one day for its taboo subject.[3]

Song's first feature film was Flower Island (2001), a story about three women with psychological wounds travelling together to an island which is said to have magical healing powers.[3][4] The film was successful internationally, winning prizes at the Venice Film Festival and the Fribourg International Film Festival among others. Afterwards Song took an acting role in director Park Kyung-hee's debut film, A Smile (Miso, 2004).[5]

Spider Forest (2004), Song's second feature film, was not successful in the South Korean domestic market, either with audiences or critics.[1] But it was Song's first film to be given a region-1 DVD release in the U.S.

Song's next feature film, Feathers in the Wind was originally planned as a 30-minute short as part of omnibus film 1.3.6, but major South Korean production studio CJ Entertainment gave Song funds to make the work into a feature for individual release. The resulting film was Song's first domestic success, with some Korean critics acclaiming it as the best romance ever filmed in Korea.[6] The Magicians (2005) also began as a 40-minute short, one-third of the 2005 Jeonju Digital Project Talk to Her.[7] Song expanded the experimental digitally shot film into a 96-minute feature done entirely in one tracking shot.[8]

In February 2007, Song was reported to be working on a film with the working title of Telephone Girl. An adaptation of the stage play Telephone Modern Girl, the film was to deal with Korea during the 1920s and 1930s, when the country was modernizing under Japanese occupation.[9] However in January 2008, Song was reportedly in pre-production for a period horror film set during the Joseon Dynasty entitled Sahwa ("Royal Massacre"). This film was scheduled to begin shooting in March 2008.[10] Celebrated 1990s actor Moon Sung-keun was reported to be playing the lead role as a king dealing with murder as well as problems of a supernatural nature.[11] These projects did not push through.

In 2009 Song turned to documentaries, telling the story of the Korean diaspora in Cuba in Dance of Time.[12][13] He also contributed the titular short film to Sorry, Thanks, an omnibus film dealing with the profound relationships people establish with their pets.[14]

Always, which opened the 2011 Busan International Film Festival, was his first mainstream film.[15][16] Inspired by Charlie Chaplin's City Lights,[17] Song said he wanted to make a "conventional love story which takes place in today's urban city."[18][19][20]

Song shot the documentary Forest of Time in Yakushima, Japan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is said to have inspired Hayao Miyazaki's animated film Princess Mononoke.[21]






  1. ^ a b c d e f Brown, James (22 July 2005). "Don't Forget Him When He's Cool: An Interview with Song Il-gon". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved 2007-12-26.
  2. ^ Paquet, Darcy. "The Picnic (So-Poong)". Retrieved 2007-12-26.
  3. ^ a b Gatto, Robin. "Song Il-gon's Flower Girls". Retrieved 2012-12-23.
  4. ^ Hartzell, Adam. "Flower Island". Retrieved 2007-12-26.
  5. ^ Kim, Kyu-hyun. "A Smile". Retrieved 2007-12-26.
  6. ^ "FEATHER IN THE WIND, a.k.a. GIT (Korea, 2004); North American Premiere". Subway Cinema. Archived from the original on 2007-11-07. Retrieved 2007-12-26.
  7. ^ Scheib, Ronnie (18 July 2006). "The Magicians". Variety. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
  8. ^ Kim, Tae-jong (2 May 2005). "Freer Expression Thru Digital Media". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on 2005-05-05. Retrieved 2007-12-06.
  9. ^ Yi, Ch’ang-ho (20 February 2007). "SONG Il-gon Tackles Modernization of Korea". Korean Film Council. Retrieved 2007-12-26.
  10. ^ D’Sa, Nigel (14 January 2008). "SONG Il-gon Horror to Shoot this Spring". Korean Film Council. Retrieved 2008-02-17.
  11. ^ D’Sa, Nigel (26 February 2008). "MOON Sung-keun Cast in SONG Il-gon Horror". Korean Film Council. Retrieved 2008-11-13.
  12. ^ Lee, Hyo-won (8 December 2009). "Song Il-gon Documents Romantic Dance of Diaspora". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
  13. ^ "Song Il-gon Interview". Hangul Celluloid. 26 April 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
  14. ^ Lee, Hyo-won (19 May 2011). "Omnibus film on pets is poignant, profound". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
  15. ^ Jeon, Chanil. "Always". Retrieved 2011-10-08.
  16. ^ Noh, Jean (6 October 2011). "Busan kicks off 16th festival to roars of applause in new cinema center". Screen International. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
  17. ^ Kim, Sam (6 October 2011). "Director: Chaplin inspired Busan film fest opener". Associated Press. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
  18. ^ Lee, Claire (6 October 2011). "BIFF opener conventional, yet charming". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
  19. ^ Kim, Jessica (6 October 2011). "Song Il-gon hopes Always will be a reminder of true value of love". 10Asia. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
  20. ^ "Year of the 12 Directors: Introducing Song Il-Gon". Korean Class Massive. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
  21. ^ "Forest of Time (2011)". The Chosun Ilbo. 20 April 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
  22. ^ List of awards based on "Awards for Il-gon Song". IMDb. Retrieved 2007-12-26.

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