Films byTexts by Hong Sang-soo
FILM
The Woman Who Ran
Hong Sang-soo, 2020, 77’

While her husband is on a business trip, Gamhee meets three women on the outskirts of Seoul. She first visits two close friends at their homes; the third, an older acquaintance, she encounters by chance at an independent cinema.

 

Article EN
6.05.2020

[Bandwith warning: this article contains a lot of images]
Owing its unity to its variations, Hong Sang-soo’s oeuvre provokes inventory-making more than others. One will find here a collection of some of the running motifs, those called for by memory and those formed as the images were collected. Floating motifs, from plate to plate – drawing, between rigidity and woolliness, between heaven and earth, an art of posture and distance, in which any relationship and resemblance could be mere coincidence. Clinking as pleasantly, we hope, as glasses on a table.

Conversation EN
6.05.2020

Anne-Christine Loranger met Hong Sang-soo in Berlin the day after the screening of On the Beach at Night Alone at the 2017 Berlinale. Hong Sang-soo: “I try to minimize as much as possible. You know, making things look good visually doesn’t add value to a scene. What's important is that visually things are right. That's what I’m trying to achieve, a truth, a rightness in the scene that’s being shot.”

DOSSIER EN
6.05.2020

This Dossier aims to trace the development of Hong Sang-soo’s remarkable body of work through a collection of essays and interviews that were written and published between 2003 and 2018. Assembled here for the first time, they give an enlightening insight into his cinematic universe, which keeps expanding as a variety of variations on an aphorism that he himself has sketched out in one of his drawings: infinite worlds are possible.

Conversation EN
6.05.2020

“For me, a film is good if it provides me with new feelings and modifies my way of thinking. That is why form is so important for me. We all share the same material. But the form we use, leads to different feelings or new ways of questioning, to new desires. So I don’t think I can be defined as formalistic or realistic. These categories simplify things. My first three films could be called formalistic, the last ones a little less so. I am only conscious of my desires.”

Article
6.05.2020

1987. Back to Chicago. During a seminar at the Art Institute, I see Robert Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest. A turning point. I give up experimental video-art cinema and move on to storytelling. That is when I understand that classic cinema can bring happiness.

Conversation EN
6.05.2020

“Imagine this rectangle is real life. I try to come as close as possible to it. How ? Using details of my life, things I’ve lived, things I heard from other people I know or I just met. I always mix different sources, and it’s never about myself, but it looks like something that happened, or looks like its about me. I want it to be like that. I realized that when I was 23 and was writing a script based on a real story. I felt too tense; I couldn’t move. I needed distance. In the same way, my films are never a parallel line to reality. What I tend to do is to follow an arrow towards reality, avoiding it at the very last second.”

Article EN
6.05.2020

More than most, Hong’s films command attentiveness. Shots, motifs, objects, dialogue, and events return, often transmogrified in their second appearances […] come back as narrative or temporal markers, or even as consequential characters, leaving a viewer to feel like David Hemmings in Blowup, scrutinizing Hong’s every image for clandestine signifiers. Placement in the frame is also paramount, as ostensibly casual groupings turn out to be extremely deliberate in their composition – meant to signal social unease, deceit, or shifting allegiances. […] (That Cézanne, a proto-Cubist, is one of the director’s artistic touchstones is no surprise; Hong, like Bresson, another of his formative influences, is a metteur en ordre – an imposer or maker of order, a finder of hidden forms.)

Article
6.05.2020

In reality, [Hong Sang-soo’s] absolute mundanity remains a decoy. Of all renowned filmmakers of the last ten years, he is without a doubt the one that has least searched for signature effects and immediate tokens of seduction, with the relative exception of the beautiful harshness of his black and white films. He remains a filmmaker of pure visual prose, all the while constructing stories whose framework is related to pure, poetic arbitrariness. So is Hong Sang-soo a filmmaker of prose or poetry? It’s a pity that Pasolini isn’t around anymore to give us the answer.

Article EN
6.05.2020

It’s a notorious fact: Hong Sang-soo does not write screenplays. Or, rather, the practice of scriptwriting melted away as time passed (...) The act of writing, if it takes place at all, is worth little more than as an initial impetu. Hong Sang-soo: “I do not want a scenario in which 95 percent of the elements are fixed in advance since, in the end, the rest of the creative process would be about working on details, the remaining 5%. What I do want is to find an approximate 30 to 40 percent of the elements in the treatment, 30 percent in the casting and dialogues, and the rest during the shoot.”

Article EN
30.01.2019

In Hong Sang-soo’s work there is a constant trait, which is neither really stylistic (it’s not a matter of form), nor frankly thematic (it’s not a matter of content either), and which returns, like a butterfly – and even, as its course is erratic, like a moth, the ultimate uncatchable insect. You will forgive me for calling this trait idiocy, a striking word that somehow touches the singular art, so difficult to describe in sentences, of this not exactly talkative filmmaker.

FILM
Hong Sang-soo, 2018, 96’

“Hong captures these contrasting dramas in typically unadorned style, utilizing the hotel as both a symbolic space of refuge and reconciliation and a practical setting for the comings and goings of a variety of personalities (although, curiously, these five seem to be the hotel’s only visitors –

FILM
Hong Sang-soo, 2018, 66’

“The owner of a cafe in a traditional district of Seoul is never shown. But we do discover he likes classical music.

Article EN
7.02.2018

In The Day He Arrives, a soju-fueled cross between Last Year at Marienbad and Groundhog Day, Yoo Seongjun, a lapsed director self-exiled to the provinces, roams the streets and bars of Seoul much as X wanders the hallways and gardens of Marienbad, through an endless repetition of settings, characters, and incidents, each reiteration calling previous accounts into question. “I don’t remember a thing,” the bar owner Ye-jeon insists after Seongjun apologizes for what something he has just done, her protestation recalling A’s many disavowals of the past in Marienbad. Whose version does one trust: his, hers, neither?

ARTICLE NL EN
24.01.2018

Hong Sang-soo zal deze referentie naar Cézanne, die hij vaak aanhaalt, kunnen waarderen, alsook mijn bedachtzaamheid als ik over hem spreek. Hij is als een geschonken boek, waarvan we ontdekken dat bepaalde bladzijdes zorgvuldig zijn uitgescheurd en dat zodoende plotseling alles ontbreekt. Zijn films hebben onze toestemming niet nodig, ze eisen een totale omarming.

Article NL EN
24.01.2018
Claire Denis 2005
Translated by

Hong Sang-soo will appreciate the reference to Cézanne, whom he often quotes, and my caution when talking about him. He is like an offered book, of which we discover that certain pages have been carefully torn out and therefore everything is suddenly missing. His films don’t need our agreement; they require total rallying.

note FR EN
19.01.2018

Coinciding with the start of the Hong Sang-soo retrospective at CINEMATEK, a new book (in French) on the filmmaker has just been published.

note FR EN
19.01.2018

Coïncidant avec le début de la rétrospective Hong Sang-soo au CINEMATEK, un nouveau livre sur le cinéaste vient d'être publié.

note EN
17.01.2018

On the occasion of CINEMATEK’s Hong Sang-soo retrospective, Sabzian, Courtisane and CINEMATEK compiled, edited and published a modest publication that aims to trace the development of Hong’s remarkable body of work through a collection of essays and interviews.

Article FR EN
17.01.2018

Poetic by its precision, attentive to duration, to the uncertainty of the moment, to outlined movements and to what they betray or control: Hong Sang-soo’s cinema seems to consist only of details, of contingent moments that suddenly get out of hand or explode. “I never aim for generalization; there’s never a global view on society at the origin of a film or even a shot. It seems to me that reality can only appear between the cracks of discrete, hypothetic, uncertain elements. I am wary of clichés and big expressions. I do not believe, for example, that something we could call ‘the’ contemporary Korea exists. I never try to share a truth, but only approximations.”

ARTICLE FR EN
17.01.2018

Poétique à force de précision, attentif aux durées, aux incertitudes de l'instant, aux mouvements esquissés et à ce qu’ils trahissent ou réfrènent, le cinéma de Hong Sang-soo semble n’être constitué que de détails, de moments contingents, qui soudain dérapent ou explosent. « Je ne vise jamais la généralisation ; le point de vue global sur la société n’est jamais à l’origine d’un film, ou même d’un plan. Il me semble que la réalité ne peut apparaître qu’entre les interstices d’éléments discrets, hypothétiques, incertains. Je me méfie des clichés et des grandes phrases, je ne crois pas, par exemple, qu’il existe ce qu’on pourrait appeler “la” Corée contemporaine. Je ne cherche jamais à faire partager une vérité, mais des approximations. »

FILM
In Another Country
Hong Sang-soo, 2012, 89’

Set in a seaside town, the film consists of three parts that tell the story of three different women, all named Anne and all played by French actress Isabelle Huppert. The framing story has young film student, Won-joo and her mother Park Sook hiding from their debtors in Mohang, a seaside tow

FILM
Woman on the Beach
Hong Sang-soo, 2006, 127’

“In Hong’s latest, Woman on the Beach, which is something of a career summation, his self-reproach takes on a more mordant tone.

FILM
Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors
Hong Sang-soo, 2000, 126’

“Reiteration becomes reversal in Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors (2000), the most complicated instance of Hong’s doubling.

FILM
On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate
Hong Sang-soo, 2000, 115’

“His work teems with Hong look-alikes, alter egos, and surrogates, most of them self-absorbed, obtuse, feckless, forever doing the wrong thing: insisting on paying a host for a home-cooked meal; crying out the name of another woman in the middle of sex; drunkenly demanding a blowjob from a long-a

FILM
Hong Sang-soo, 2011, 29’

1. Take a walk through the village.

2. Take a walk on the beach.

3. Have lunch at a famous restaurant.

4. Collect a pretty shell or a nice souvenir.

5. See if there are tours through the mud flats.

6. Find someone to play badminton with.

FILM
Hong Sang-soo, 2010, 115’

“In Hong Sang-soo’s work there is a constant trait, which is neither really stylistic (it’s not a matter of form), nor frankly thematic (it’s not a matter of content either), and which returns, like a butterfly – and even, as its course is erratic, like a moth, the ultimate uncatchable insect.

FILM
The Power of Kangwon Province
Hong Sang-soo, 1998, 110’

The Power of Kangwon Province (1998): leaving with a friend to tour this tourist-province par excellence, the hero puts a secretary at his university in charge of taking care of two goldfish.

FILM
The Day He Arrives
Hong Sang-soo, 2011, 79’

“Near the end of Alain Resnais’ masterpiece Muriel, a man sings a music hall chanson about time and memory that mournfully repeats the word déjà to emphasize the rue of those who “fear the future, regret the past.” He could be describing Hong Sang-soo’s aimless characters – “I have nowhe

FILM
Tale of Cinema
Hong Sang-soo, 2005, 89’

“I don’t think you really understood the film.”

Yong-sil in Geuk jang jeon [Tale of Cinema] (2005)

 

FILM
Woman Is the Future of Man
Hong Sang-soo, 2004, 88’

Woman Is the Future of Man. Some years ago, I found this sentence by Aragon, in the Quartier Latin, on a postcard. I liked it. I knew that it was going to stay with me, but I didn’t really know why.

FILM
The Day a Pig Fell into the Well
Hong Sang-soo, 1996, 115’

“The women are the true heroes, the brave ones. Violated (defeated?), as they are, they remain the masters of time, of the time that divides the past and the present of the story, of all the time lost to the men.

FILM
The Day After
Hong Sang-soo, 2017, 92’

“In Hong’s bittersweet sonatas, typically composed of multiple movements, repeated figures and modulating motives, any relationship or situation is susceptible to variability: there can always be another version, another chance, another time.

FILM
Night and Day
Hong Sang-soo, 2008, 145’

“Hong is the king of number two: two men for a women (Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, 2000), two women for a man (Woman on the Beach, 2006), two chapters in a male-female relation (Turning Gate, 2002), two films in one (Tale of Cinema, 2005), two filmmak

FILM
Hong Sang-soo, 2017, 69’

« Le 23 novembre à Paris, 15 heures. Je veux parler de quelqu’un. D’un homme de vingt-cinq ans tout au plus. C’est un homme très beau qui veut mourir avant d’être repéré par la mort. Vous l’aimiez. Plus que ça. »