Thirst: Q&A with Park Chan-wook at Hollywood Reporter

Thirst (Bakjwi, 2009)THIRST – a new “vampire romance” from Korean writer-director Park Chan-wook (LADY VENGEANCE, THREE EXTREMES) – is the first Korean production completed with Hollywood financing (courtesy of Universal Pictures). The film (which is about a priest who is turned into a vampire when an experiment goes wrong) will be screening in competition at the Cannes Film Festival this month. In honor of this event, Hollywood Reporter has posted an interview with Park Chan-wook:

The Hollywood Reporter: What is a vampire movie doing In Competition in Cannes? In fact, is “vampire movie” really the right term?
Park Chan-wook: This is one of the questions that trouble me the most. As soon as one starts to classify a film by genre, whatever it may be, people start to have unnecessary preconceptions. Furthermore, that kind of definition cannot embrace the whole film. For instance, if I said “Thirst” is a “vampire romance,” most people will think of “Interview With the Vampire,” or “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” even though the romanticism found in those films has nothing at all to do with “Thirst.” Also, no one will be able to conceive of the religious issues that are embedded in “Thirst.” But if I really had to come up with an answer, I cannot think of any other than “vampire romance.” If there is a more accurate way of classifying it, please let me know.
THR: I’ve heard that you scare easily. Do you believe in the existence of vampires?
Park: Back in the days when I was poor, I watched a lot of horror films on a very old, small TV. They were on these VHS tapes that had been taped over a number of times and the picture quality was terrible. At the time I thought I was a horror film fan. But then came the age of DVDs, and my TV was replaced with a big new one. Only then did I realize that I scare easily. Ever since, I have not been able to watch horror films. Vampires are a metaphor for all kinds of exploiters. I certainly do believe in the existence of exploiters.

Thanks to Universal’s involvement, THIRST (known as Bakjwi in Korea) will be distributed internationall by the high-end boutique label Focus Features (although no U.S. date has been set). Park, who has been offered the opportunity to helm the reboot of THE EVIL DEAD, states that the Hollywood involvement in THIRST has not motivated him to work in America, but he might make the jump if the script is right:

Park: […] The issue of whether I make a Hollywood film or not, is only related to the question of whether I can find a good enough script. Unless I have in my hand a script that is suitable for an English-language film (regardless of whether I or someone else wrote it), I won’t be working on a Hollywood film. But if a script like that came my way right now, I would be prepared to go straight from Cannes to L.A. without stopping home in Seoul.

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