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Most fans of Korean cinema may not know who Bae Chang-ho is. A maverick filmmaker in his 50's, Bae was once called the Korean Spielberg because he cranked out a hit after another. His noted films include The Deep Blue Night and Our Sweet Days of Youth. Back in the 80's, he was literally the biggest filmmaker in Korea.
Last night, a retrospective of his films was held at the Korean cinematheque. Before screening People in the Slum, his first feature, Bae came on stage (the man with the mic) with his lead actors, his DP and his co-writer (whose book the film is based on). It was certainly an emotional night. Even for me. I looked up to him growing up. I even attended a film magazine-sponsored conversation with the director while in high school.
It was also sad because he's not making movies any more. No, he didn't retire. But the industry prefers younger filmmakers. What a contrast when this week Clint Eastwood is showcasing his new film at Cannes and Steven Spielberg is coming out with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull! I know they're exceptions but Korean film could use a few more mature auteurs.