[Herald Interview] Director Lee Chung
Director Lee Chung-hyeon, who rapidly rose to stardom when his feature film debut “The Call” was released on Netflix in 2020, returned with “Ballerina” on the same platform on Oct. 5.
With another female-led story starring his girlfriend and actor Jun Jong-seo, Lee said that women have always been at the center of his storytelling.
“I made short films since I was in high school and women have always been at the core, leading the storyline. For me, when I think of a story, female characters always come to my mind first,” Lee told The Korea Herald in an interview in Seoul on Wednesday.
“Ballerina” is an action-packed film depicting merciless revenge by Ok-joo (Jun) on behalf of her friend, the titular ballerina Min-hee (Park Yu-rim). Kim Ji-hoon, known from Netflix hit series “Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area,” stars as Choi Pro, a lieutenant in the gang who is targeted by Ok-joo for having led Min-hee to take her own life.
Lee said as Jun's partner he has seen the limited opportunities presented to her as a female actor.
“When I see the roles suggested for Jun, they were very limited in expressing the full character; most of the time, just a supporting role to the male lead. I do feel a sense of frustration and hope to see more mainstream films adopt female leads,” he added.
For this project, of course, he had to ask Jun and Park about how the female-led story should develop further to really resonate with the audience.
“For a detailed depiction of sensitive expressions of feelings as a female action killer, I asked Jun and Park a lot, as well as other female staff on set. There are also many female members on the martial arts team. So I referred to many of them for their feedback and viewpoints to vividly portray the women’s feeling and expression, even from the scriptwriting stage,” said Lee.
The film also has garnered industry attention for Lee’s pick of rapper and composer Gray as the film's music director. The film’s sensuous mise-en-scene employing unexpected hues like pink and red is eye-catching -- a perfect fit for the hip-hop tempo in important scenes by Gray.
“I thought that this film has a special and unique style and element compared to other films. I wished to portray the process of Ok-joo seeking revenge like a ballet performance. So I put an emphasis on music and the color hues in the film from the preproduction stage,” Lee said, adding that he was also a big fan of Gray.
“Ballerina” is streaming on Netflix.