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[2015] Mayor’s Speech

  • Seoul, the Leader of Asia, Rebuilt Itself into a Film-Friendly City

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    Press briefing on ‘a comprehensive plan for the development of imaging and cultural industries’
    Date March 25, 2015, Venue Indie Space

    Today, I’m meeting journalists at a special place. I considered holding a briefing in a pressroom, but I thought it would be better to meet at Indie Space, which is the only private independent movie theater in Seoul. I have wondered why there is only one independent movie theater in Seoul, where more than 100 million movie tickets are sold each year and a growing number of films have passed the ten million-viewer mark. I, as the mayor of the city, personally find it absolutely disgraceful.

    Wasn’t it in May last year? I told people working in the film industry that every field of study is equally important, including basic science, but at the moment fine arts needs to be promoted so that commercial art can flourish. I added that I would provide systematic support for the film industry, including the independent movie industry, and create a decent Cinematheque where people working in the movie industry can share the art of film with citizens and communicate with them better. Today, I would like to announce the results of our 2-year collaboration with citizens, the movie industry, and experts.

    Woody Allen, the movie director, said, “If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” Today, I am about to embark on a project with you that has been attempted many times. This time, however, we will not fail, prepared as we are with our discussions over the last two years. We are moving forward one step at a time. First, we will make the city a great place for filming by creating the Cinematheque, supporting independent films, and fostering film production, one of the long-cherished ambitions of our film industry.

    I dream that a movie filmed in Seoul, telling the story of Seoul, will set a new all-time box-office record someday. I believe we will soon be able to discover the successors of the world-renowned directors, Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho, who are attending here today. I look forward to the day that people say, ‘If anyone wants to know about the present and future of the world’s movie trends, they might need to visit Seoul.’ Today, Seoul has made historic strides toward this goal. Starting today, we would like to make our dream into a reality, a dream of becoming one of the most film-friendly countries in the world, and a hub for the cutting-edge film industry in Asia. The reason for my strong belief is simple but very firm: the dream that we share will always be turned into a reality.

    First of all, the Cinematheque, a complex for images and culture, will be set up, which will rank alongside the Paris Francaise and the New York Film Forum, which have been closely associated with the Korean film industry. With a budget of approximately 20 billion won, the complex will be completed and open to the public by the first half of 2018.

    The Seoul Cinematheque, fully equipped with screens, a film archive, and imaging media centers, will serve as a cultural center sought after by citizens and movie fans. It will not only excite creativity and inspiration among filmmakers, but also offer citizens a number of opportunities to enjoy previously unattainable films on a regular basis. Someone said that as the film industry develops, it raises more questions than answers. I believe that is true. The Seoul Cinematheque will also raise a host of questions after its completion. We will continue to search for the answers to those questions; from what movies we need to make to how we can fund them in order to make a better society. I am very excited about that.

    Secondly, Seoul will provide support for the production and stable screening of independent films and art films, which are the foundation of the movie industry. We will never allow promising creative works to be mistreated. Throughout the whole procedure, from independent film making to marketing, from screening to distribution, we will systematically support each phase.

    We will increase the number of theaters for independent films, which have no place to show their work to citizens due to the monopoly of big companies. We will build more theaters like Indiespace in Seoul. Our current target is building 12 more theaters by 2018. Seoul has 25 gu (district) offices, and only half of Seoul has theaters for independent films. I hope that independent films grow in popularity, so that more people can enjoy them.

    Thirdly, Avengers 2, which was filmed at Mapo Bridge and DMS last year, is scheduled to be released this upcoming summer. I am not here to talk about the economic effect of these kinds of works; however, the statistics have said that the economic effect caused by Avengers 2 is more than 25 billion won.

    It was probably 2013. I went to the theater to see Cold Eyes, and the all of the film’s locations were in was Seoul. Cold Eyes vividly shows every single street, alley, and building in Seoul.

    Seoul will definitely be a favorable city for filmmaking. I have heard that making a film in Tokyo or Shanghai is difficult. Seoul is comparatively very cooperative and friendly; if anyone wants to make a film here in Seoul, I would like to welcome them by opening the door. That is why we adopted the slogan, “Seoul, Good City for Filmmaking.” At the same time, we will do our best to promote the marketing of the film industry looking outward by connecting them with tourism policies.

    Last and but not least, in the end it is all about human beings. We will create pools filled with talent based on bright creators, such as directors, producers, and writers. In addition to providing support, we will sharply increase the amount of budget for creative works, and create a fund for movies amounting to 50 billion won. By doing so, I think that we can narrow the gap in the movie industry, helping small but powerful movies. Giving you this promise, I believe that some would ask me, “Does Seoul need a landmark?” Or, “What is the landmark of Seoul?”

    Every time I am asked this, I answer in the same way. We, Seoul, already have a landmark. Last year, 12 million visitors traveled Seoul because they were drawn by the attractiveness of Seoul, a city with more than 2000 years of history. Seoul has mountains inside and out, and there is also the Han River. Furthermore, I think YOU, the people living in Seoul, are the very landmark. Those three are the beautiful landmarks of Seoul. What do we have to have further? Some would say we have enough landmarks; however, I am dreaming of one more landmark.

    That is Seoul’s stories and movies. Seoul, which is being created by history, nature, and people, and the myriad stories that will be produced in Seoul, brilliant and shining films, will become another landmark that will capture the eyes of global citizens.

    In the movie Dead Poets Society, Mr. John Keating says that language was developed for one endeavor: to woo a woman. All of guests working for the film industry! Please develop your language in Seoul as you wish. With your language, film, please ask all the global citizens to view Seoul in all its beauty. All of the staff in the Seoul Metropolitan Government and I will support you to woo the citizens of the world. Let’s watch the movie clips and then have an insightful discussion. Thank you.