Hong Sang-soo

"Born in 1960, and making films since 1996, Hong is one of the most distinctive creators of cinematic styles currently active, a fact that’s all the more surprising and remarkable inasmuch as he’s essentially a first-person realist. His movies are, for the most part, centered on characters who are filmmakers or connected to the movie business or other arts." - Richard Brody (The New Yorker, 2016)

Hong Sang-soo

Director / Screenwriter
(1960- ) Born October 25, Seoul, South Korea

Key Production Country: South Korea
Key Genres: Drama, Psychological Drama, Comedy Drama, Romantic Drama, Comedy, Comedy of Manners
Key Collaborators: Jeong Yong-jin (Composer), Hee Kim Kyoung (Producer), Hahm Sung-Won (Editor), Park Hong-yeol (Cinematographer), Kim Hyung-ku (Cinematographer), Yoon Yeo-jeong (Leading Character Actress), Yoo Joon-sang (Leading Character Actor), Kim Eui-sung (Leading Character Actor), Gi Ju-bong (Leading Character Actor), Kim Sang-kyung (Leading Actor), Moon So-Ri (Leading Character Actress), Ye Ji-won (Leading Character Actress)

"Mr. Hong’s stories return to certain touchstones. A writer, a filmmaker, a student or some combination of these become romantically entangled. Drunken confessions and professional pratfalls invariably take place. Narratives are often retold from different perspectives, or ambiguously, as if they might be fantasies." - Nicolas Rapold (The New York Times, 2017)
"There are few filmmakers as distinctive as the South Korean master Hong Sang-soo, a writer-director whose films are immediately recognisable to even those with very little investment in auteurism. At the same time, he is not easy to pin down and describe, as his style is subtle and thus often elusive for the critic, a fact compounded by Hong’s reticence to discuss the meaning of his work. Therefore, there is a need for some to resort to analogies: Hong is the Korean Eric Rohmer, or the Korean Woody Allen, comparisons that are by no means outrageous and yet seriously inadequate, especially with regards to Hong’s style… Ultimately Hong Sang-soo is a filmmaker operating very much, for better and for worse, within his own cinematic world, one that can be linked to both national and international contexts but which also exists and continues to evolve in its own unique form." - Marc Raymond (Senses of Cinema, 2016)
"The films of South Korean director Hong Sang-soo are at once deceptively simple and dense with subtle shades of meaning. Hong is often compared to legendary French filmmakers Éric Rohmer—for his extended dialogue scenes and his acute moral vision—and Alain Resnais—for his abiding fascination with the function (or malfunction) of memory and the structure of storytelling. Yet his films are firmly grounded in the social and sexual politics, and drinking rituals, of his native South Korea. Each new Hong movie stands on its own virtues, while also seeming like a new episode in a vast overarching serial narrative, a grand super-story about ceaseless self-sabotage, blinkered yearning, male vanity, the resolute failure to learn from mistakes, and the moments of tenderness and beauty which could almost, maybe redeem the whole human comedy." - Museum of the Moving Image, 2016
"Of all the South Korean filmmakers to emerge over the past fifteen years, Hong Sangsoo is the closest to what Americans think of as an independent filmmaker. Born in Seoul in 1960, Hong studied filmmaking at Chungang University and subsequently earned degrees from both California College of the Arts and the Art Institute of Chicago before returning to South Korea to teach screenwriting while launching his filmmaking career. Since his first film, The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well, his work has attracted acclaim both in South Korea and internationally. He has averaged almost a film a year since, a prolific pace that recalls the work of the filmmakers of the French New Wave, who developed a visual and a narrative style that would allow them to work quickly and inexpensively, as independents." - Harvard Film Archive, 2011
"The prolific South Korean director Hong Sang-soo is often accused of making the same movie over and over again — a criticism that can lose sight of the fact that repetition, in filmmaking and everyday reality, has become one of his signature themes." - Justin Chang (Los Angeles Times, 2016)
"A regular on the international festival circuit, Hong Sang-soo is one of Korea's most highly regarded contemporary directors. His mostly improvised, innovatively constructed films conceal rich layers of meaning beneath deceptively simple surfaces, and reveal a filmmaker with a unique, individual style. A rather notorious figure on the Seoul film scene, Hong has a fondness for alcohol that is almost as legendary as his talent for filmmaking. He's been known to get familiar with his actors before shooting by taking them on drinking binges, and, for verisimilitude, the many drinking scenes in his films normally include actually drunk performers (who sometimes don't remember these scenes after they've been shot)." - Tom Vick (Allmovie)
TSPDT Guide
Recommended
The Power of Kangwon Province (1998), Turning Gate (2002) , Woman on the Beach (2006) , Oki's Movie (2010), Right Now, Wrong Then (2015)
Worth a Look
The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well (1996), Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors (2000), Woman is the Future of Man (2004), Tale of Cinema (2005), Night and Day (2008) , Hahaha (2010), The Day He Arrives (2011), In Another Country (2012), Nobody's Daughter Haewon (2013), Hill of Freedom (2014)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
Hong Sang-soo / Favourite Films
L'Atalante (1934) Jean Vigo, Boat Leaving the Port (1895) Louis Lumière, Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932) Jean Renoir, Early Summer (1951) Yasujiro Ozu, The Green Ray (1986) Eric Rohmer, A Man Escaped (1956) Robert Bresson, Nanook of the North (1922) Robert Flaherty, Nazarín (1958) Luis Buñuel, Ordet (1955) Carl Theodor Dreyer, Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) John Ford.
Source: Sight & Sound (2012)
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    Woman on the Beach
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