Ciclo de Cine Oriental was a faceoff between two of the most well renowned Asian film directors, Takashi Miike (Japan) and Kim Ki Duk (Korea) at a film festival in Santiago. Films that fill your head with violence and disturbing images were counteracted with thought-provoking films that balance violence with beauty. The festival featured 10 intense and provocative films from each director.
Takashi Miike is the controversial Japanese director most notorious for his graphic use of violence and sexual perversions in his horror films. He brought ten of his most famous films to Santiago, beginning with his international breakthrough film, “Audition” and ending with his one of his most recent films, “Sukiyaki Western Djando.” Known for pushing the boundaries, Miike’s risky films are dark and bizarre, but never lacking in originality.
“Three Extremes (Box)” is a trilogy of short horror films by three different Asian directors. “Box” is a 40 minute film by Miike which leaves the audience questioning the reality of the haunting and disturbing images. Miike intertwines the worlds of dream, memory and reality in this tale of a woman’s remorseful past. Kyoko is a young woman who is haunted by an accident in her past that resulted in the death of her sister. Her guilt overwhelms her to the point that she is caught in that childhood memory. She has reoccurring nightmares of being forced into the box that she and her sister used to perform in and then buried in the snow by her father. This film is not as violent as other films that Miike has directed and it is not just a typical horror film. “Box” is a complex film for all of its simplicity and leaves the audience reflecting about reality and dreams.
On the other hand, Kim Ki Duk’s thought-provoking films use violence and beauty to contrast each other. Duk’s films are provocative and bold, often seen as controversial to critics and audiences. The self-taught filmmaker uses symbolism and silence in order to emphasize his views of human relationships with prostitution as a reoccurring theme. Award winning films, such as “The Isle” and “Spring, Summer, Fall Winter…and Spring,” evoke mixed feelings of disgust and beauty and make the audience contemplate life and society.
A tender love story, “3-Iron” is also a story about the need to make a spiritual connection with another person. In all of Duk’s films, this spiritual connection is never made through words, which is all the more evident in 3-Iron’s lack of dialogue. Tae-Suk is a wanderer who breaks into people’s homes, uses their stuff, does their laundry and leaves a trace of himself by fixing the broken things in their house. One house he enters is not empty though; he meets Sun-Hwa, an abused housewife, and resorts to rescuing her from her violent husband. This scene of rescuing contorts the game of golf into a violent act, where Tae-Suk hits golf balls into the stomach of the abusive husband. The 3-iron golf club continues to remain an object of violence throughout the film, as the two lovers continue his routine of breaking and entering. Tae-Suk and Sun-Hwa’s love blossoms during their adventures without ever speaking a word to each other.
These two directors are famous for their controversial films; Miike has mastered playing with the audience’s head and Duk has eliminated the need for words. Both directors brought something original and intriguing to Santiago and left audiences in awe from their amazing cinematic works.
Ciclo de Cine Oriental: Takashi Miike / Kim Ki Duk
May 5 to August 6