World News It's All Relative Did You Know? Opinion On The Streets
Media Coordinator Jamil Karim hit the streets in search of the local talent for this year's Vancouver Short Film Festival. It was at Bojangle's Cafe in Yaletown that he met with an amazingly talented young filmmaker named Jung-Sun Song.

The following is a a review and interview about her film The Letters, premiering at the VSFF this week.

Synopsis: As she nears the important transition point of high school graduation, April writes a letter to her childhood friend Jiyoon. Against the mundane backdrop of her life, April reveals to her friend the world of her dreams, as well as the fears that accompany her uncertainties regarding the future.

Jamil's Review: After watching The Letters, my immediate reaction was that this was exactly what high school was like for me. The main character’s wonders and curiosity about the future is a thought process that every senior in high school goes through. They wonder about their friends, school, and of course their own future; often feeling trapped and alone.

The Letters is based on filmmaker Jung-Sun Song’s experiences from high school. Song said her favourite part of the movie was how the lead actress did an outstanding job of portraying what life was like in high school, and how she was able to do it so effectively without saying anything in the movie (all her lines were narrated).

When asked about the intended audience of the film, Song believed that it could be an enjoyable film for all ages given that many people have gone through some of the same experiences in their own lives.

We wish Jung-Sun and the rest of the crew from “The Letters” the best of luck at the VSFF on Thursday!

The Interview with Filmmaker Jung-Sun:

What inspired this movie? Did you have a similar experience in high school?
Yes [I had a similar experience in high school]. I grew up in Abbotsford working at my parents Laundromat and a lot of the experiences in the movie came from that. Having all these dreams and fears about what I should and shouldn’t do.

Who is the intended audience for this film?
I think pretty much everybody has gone through that kind of transition in their life as they struggled to find out who they were… A lot of people have come up to me after the film and said that they could relate to the character [and her experiences]. And these were people from all different age groups. I guess I kind of wrote it for myself to share some of the experiences that I went through.

Do you think this is what a normal high school girl goes through? Or is this the exception?
I think everybody goes through this. I didn’t think the character was special or someone who stood out from the crowd. I saw her as more of a relatable character.

Did living the first part of your life in South Korea affect your filmmaking at all? Do you have a different perspective or different style that separates you from filmmakers who have spent their whole life in Canada?
Yes [living the first part of my life in South Korea has effected my filmmaking]. The Korean films I grew up watching have a very different feel aesthetically. They have a lot of animation and narration in the films.

I grew up in such a different setting. When I came here it was such a culture shock. It made me think a lot about where I was living before. When I came here there was a struggle at first. I think if you’ve grown up and have had different experiences that will show in the filmmaking.

The Letters was featured at the World Film Festival. What was it like being apart of that?
Given that it was in Montreal, I unfortunately didn’t get to take part in it. So that’s why I’m so excited to be apart of this festival. This will be the first festival I’ll be apart of that isn’t to do with school.

The actress in the film doesn’t say anything during the film. Every time she is on camera, her voice is narrated and all we see are her actions. Was this always your intention? And did that create any problems in the filming for either you or the actress?
It was a bit of a struggle. She had to be very expressive. I think she did a great job and she did it in a subtle way. I’ve written so many letters to my friends when I moved here from South Korea, that I really liked the letter style.

The pace of the movie is quite slow, compared to some of the other films at the VSFF. Is this something you generally like to do with your films?
I think so, yes. I think there are a lot of films that are fun and are fast paced, but for me, I like to take my time and make people think about things more. I didn’t think it was necessarily slow when I was editing it, but I can definitely see how it could be seen that way.

What is your favourite part of the film?
I was really happy with the acting in the movie. It was hard for me to direct because I had so many different ideas. This character is essentially me, and I thought she did a very good job.

If you could change one thing about the film, if anything, what would it be?
During the filming, we spent hours that we didn’t necessarily need. That being said, I felt this was all apart of the learning process. I also wrote a lot of narration that we didn’t end up needing at the end. Once again, I think these were good experiences for me to go through.

Would you say from the first day of filming, to the last day of the VSFF, that this will be one giant learning experience for you?
Definitely. It was really hard, but I learned so much. I had a very small crew to work with, but we all worked so hard and well together.

Given that there are several students here at the film festival, what is the relationship like? Are you all friends, or is there some competition between all of you?
Some of us are really close friends. We are all very supportive and we helped each other on our films. I would say it’s more supportive than competitive.

Now that the film festival is here, is this the easy part or the stressful part?
It’s really rewarding to see how people can enjoy my films. This is the biggest audience I will have for a film so that makes me quite nervous as well. What if people don’t like it? That being said, it’s more fun than it is stressful.

What do you have in store for your next short film? Have you even thought that far ahead?
I’ve been trying to write a script for a feature. I’ve written a few shorts, but now I want to take it to the next step. I would really like to work in the industry as a Production Designer as well.


  1. Anonymous says:

    A truly outstanding film from a gifted filmmaker. Congrats Jung-Sun!

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