Busan: Mike Figgis to Direct Three Short Films in Korea About #MeToo Movement

John Phillips/Getty Images for The Moet British Independent Film Awards
Mike Figgis

In the country to chair a competition jury at the Busan International Film Festival, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker said he has recently fallen in love with Korean screen content and hopes to make his own contributions to the country's industry.

Oscar-nominated director Mike Figgis on Saturday announced at the 24th Busan International Film Festival that he would be training his lens on the #MeToo movement in a deal with South Korea’s Saram Entertainment that will produce three short films.

"I use the word in the loosest sense, but they are being built thematically around the #MeToo movement," said the director, best known for his 1995 drama Leaving Las Vegas.

"So we have male perspective, female perspective and a kind of K-pop theme, added Figgis, explaining the approach of the three shorts, which will all be shot with Korean and international actors. "I say 'loosely' [built around a #MeToo theme] because I’m not interested in the propaganda approach. We have that in multi-forms everyday in newspapers and on TV. It’s really about examining the issues on a more intimate social level, through a couple of macro moments."

Figgis was speaking on the sidelines of the Busan fest, where he is playing the role of jury head for the event's New Currents competition section, open to first-and second-time Asian filmmakers. It is the 71-year-old director's fifth trip to South Korea in 14 months. Figgis said he recently became hooked on K-drama TV series and bought an airline ticket to the country "on a whim."

"Initially on coming to Korea, I was wanting to meet actors as I wanted to do a photo project," said the helmer. "But I am open to all forms of ideas, and the idea with shortform was that it’s a way of kicking off the relationship between the Korean film industry, myself and Saram."

The stories for the three shorts are being developed with Korean screenwriter Uni Hong with an aim to package them with other Asian producers and cast. The languages the stories will be told in will be determined at a later date.

"It will be cast-based," said Figgis. "So we are looking for high-profile cast. These are character studies, very contained with three or four characters."

The filmmaker said his long-term ambition was to make a feature in Korea. "This is for me an exploration of what it physically takes to make a film here," Figgis said. "I don’t speak Korean, so I have to collaborate on a very intense level."

He added: "In a way, with shortform, it’s also about testing the waters of what is next with the film industry. What are the possibilities in terms of style and platform, and where are we going? Hopefully, I can contribute some of my own innovation into how the Korean film industry works."