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Celine Song on how making 'Past Life' made her 'fall deeply in love with filmmaking'

Celine Song’s directorial debut past life has been overwhelmed by *) Since its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, it has received rave reviews and is deeply loved by audiences. In 10 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

“Screenwriter Celine Song takes a stunning step forward in this decades-spanning romance,” THR‘s review summary.

Movie starring Greta Lee ( Russian Doll , Morning Show ) plays Nora, whose family moved from Korea to Canada and later to New York City, mirroring the moves Song experienced in real life. The film also stars Korean star Chang Yoo ( decides to leave ) as Hae Sung, Nok Nora’s Korean childhood soul mate, John Magaro ( Big Short , Carol ) as her American husband Arthur.

In Karlovy Vary, Song explained to THR how her theater background helped her write dialogue, Why her story is so common, what she asks of people who go to the movies.

Judging by the strong reaction of the audience here in Karlovy Vary and other festivals, Past Lives This Life is one of those personal stories with universal appeal. Have you started thinking about this goal?

My professor once said that if you do something, you will Self is very excited and passionate about something or you love yourself very much and you believe and you think it is true because you are a human and not an alien and there will be other people who connect with it fellow human beings . I think that’s ultimately what guides me through everything I do. At the end of the day, I know that when it comes to what I do, my standards for what’s bullshit and what’s real are going to be higher. No critic knows better than him when I’m talking bullshit. So, in that sense, the only things I’m after are things that I can be interested in or that I can consider honest. Once you do that, you just want other people to see that too and see that this is not just one person’s story, but a story that can exist in their own lives. That’s what I can do as an artist.

How much of this story is based on your own true experiences or the experiences of others?

There is a bar in the East Village, I ended up going because I live there. I was sitting there with my childhood sweetheart, who flew in from Korea and is now friends, who only speaks Korean, and my American husband, who only speaks English. I sat there trying to translate these two people trying to communicate, and I felt like something very special was happening. I became, in a way, a bridge or a gateway between these two people, and in a way, a bridge or a gateway between these two linguistic and cultural worlds. Something in that moment really sparked something, and then it made me really think that this could be a movie. So it all started with a very real thing that happened to me. But, of course, in making a film, it comes from a subjective experience that sparks the whole story into one object, the screenplay, and from there, the film.

Since I used to live in New York, I must ask you where you went to the East Village which bar?

Please don’t tell. (The author said: “I know!”) Did you know! ? with phone booth. But this scene was actually filmed at the Holiday Cocktail Lounge on Eighth Street. You’re probably just passing it, and it doesn’t look like much from the outside.

That bar opening scene where the three main characters are sitting in the bar and someone wonders what’s going on between them relationship, which is a conversation I’ve had with my friends before. How do you craft dialogue that feels so natural and real?

I think it’s from the drama. I have worked in theater for a long time. It’s really the only thing you can count on in the theater. Because in theater, you don’t really have set design, there’s nothing that can really help you. All you have is dialogue and actors. So for me, I’m a veteran and I know what to do.

You can really feel awkward in some scenes, such as the scene where two people meet for the first time. How do you do that as a director?

I’m not going to set off any fireworks or do some VFX or improve the faces of the actors thing. This means that the entire film must live on the faces of the actors. So I did a few things.

During prep for the film, I kept the two male actors apart until we shot the scene where the two of them meet for the first time. It takes a little logistics, but the two are separate. And, I also asked Greta, who played Nora, to tell that person when she was rehearsing with everyone that she was rehearsing with another person. So they’re both forming ideas about who the other is and developing expectations of each other. Of course, we had fun when they first met. Because we wanted to start rolling when they first met — the actors and the characters. When that happened, that shot was in the movie, the first shot of them looking at each other was in the movie. It’s amazing because they can feel all expectations crumbling, right? But at the same time, they also have to tolerate each other and try to understand. Because it also has a lot to do with how we perceive another human being. I’m sure you’ve seen my photos before. Of course, in a way, meeting me in person is a whole different thing.

This is also important in the movie because this is a movie about the extraordinary

hello and Extraordinary Goodbye . I don’t think every movie needs to play a game like this. But I think the movie works because it helps the actors make a very special greeting and a very special farewell.

Another thing I did was I didn’t actually make Teo (Yoo) and Greta (Lee) and Hae Sung and Greta touch each other until they met Video for the first time. They’re rehearsing, so they know each other, but when they actually embrace, the real heat and body and everything, it becomes tangible, it becomes something you can touch. So I think it’s something you’re trying to make, partly because I don’t have fireworks. All you can do is see what’s happening on their faces, and sometimes that’s enough.

Past life

Courtesy of Jon Parker1235310132 1235503546

After watching the movie, I thought a lot about identity, who we are, who we can be, and what affects and changes us. For example, I grew up in Austria with a Hungarian father, then moved to New York and now live in the UK, Nora moved from Korea to Canada and then to New York. Can you talk about this subject?

Interestingly, when we talk about identity, part of what we talk about is of human experience flattened into words. If you were to talk about your identity, you would say: well, I’m an Austrian, my father is Hungarian, he’s a journalist, and that’s not all about you. Then there used to be New Yorkers. So it’s all about flattening your experience. The time you spend in New York, I don’t think it comes down to being a New Yorker because every day you live there, you give that city time and space, do you? Every day at that time was full of energy. You can’t talk about it as a bland word. What you can talk about is an experience, or you can see it as being. So I think it’s also about being fluid, being through time and space.

It used to be that to move to another town you had to ride a horse. In the past, moving was much more difficult. But now we are more mobile. Of course, we all have career pursuits, and a lot of our career pursuits involve traveling, or moving to a new place, or changing — changing careers or changing companies, or whatever it may be. We move from one place to another. That’s what this movie is about. Undoubtedly, it has to do with identity. But I think it’s about the way identity is not flat, but spherical and in constant motion. Because right now, I don’t think you can take New York away from me because I live in New York 12 Year.

Is Nora a professional writer in New York? Yes. Is she also that little girl she left in Korea who only speaks Korean and has so much ambition and all these problems? Absolutely. I think we can say that of all of us. I know you and I sit here and we know there’s a 10 Year-old versions of our children existed and still exist among us. Depending on who you talk to, you can feel that way. I’m sure you’ve heard this before. People sometimes say that when they spend time with their parents, they suddenly go back to being a teenager and they feel like a teenager and go, “Mom! Dad!” I think that person exists. So it’s really about our many egos . It’s about accepting that and attuning to that, and letting go of the idea that “you’re just one thing.”

Have you come up with an idea for a follow-up movie or do you know if you want to be on the subject Aspects going in different directions?

As an artist, you want what is best for your work The important thing is to keep it alive. Every new thing you do has to feel completely energized. What always works for me is that there has to be some part of it that’s completely new to me, more or less something I’ve never done before. Something that scares me or makes me think it’s going to teach me something. I think something smarter than me. These are things that I really hope for in every project I do. So whatever projects I want to do, it always makes me feel alive to do them because I don’t want to beat a horse.

Do you want to go back to theater work or focus on film? Past Lives

I want to make more movies.

You also worked in TV for a while, right? Past Lives

I was first in The Wheel of Time Staff writer midseason, a show I wanted to film in this (part of the world), but I never filmed the show. But I’m in the writer’s room for season one.

How do you feel about theater at this point in your career? Is this something you might still explore further or is this a “past life” at this stage?

Drama may be a thing of the past. I really enjoy filmmaking. I just feel like I’ve found myself. It was a revelation for me as a filmmaker and I absolutely loved it. It’s kind of like the honeymoon period. But I think I really like it.

What was the main attraction of the movie for you? Is it an additional tool for storytelling or what?

I actually think what I like about it is that I can make so many completely thought out decisions , I can persist. Plus, I just love being on set. I love preparing and being in the editing room. I really fell in love with the process of those things. I really feel like every day on set, I’m pushing my limits a little bit, and I’m learning about myself. I thought my limit was reached. Then every day you will be pushed, and you will be surprised to find yourself more and more limited every day. Then it just makes you want to go further. I guess that’s what I really like.

I hear you are one of the most interviewed people to get here and I have to sum up one time. Is there anything else you would like to share?

One thing I want to say is: I want the audience to come with an open heart Everything matters. I don’t want every viewer to come away feeling the same or thinking the same thing because we all come from different walks of life. Because this movie is about people from all walks of life and the complexities of being and identity and everything, I don’t want everyone to have the exact same reaction to this movie. But what I’m really asking for is that they show up with an open mind so they can let this movie go deep into their hearts and let it make a mark in their lives like Hae Sung did

left its mark on Nora’s life and Arthur’s.I hope at least an hour and The minute they are in the theater, able to connect with the characters and be open to them Spend.

Interview edited for length and clarity.



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