Darcy Paquet captures the best of Korean cinema

When Darcy Paquet moved to Korea in 1997, he was already a fan of Asian cinema, having enjoyed films from Hong Kong and Japan, so he decided to learn more about Korean cinema.

“The movies I saw were way better than I expected,” said Paquet, who grew up in Massachusetts. “And yet I was going online and looking for information and there was nothing about it in English. So I decided to create a Korean cinema website, thinking it would be better than nothing.

Launched in 1999, this site, Koreanfilm.org, was so “better than nothing” that it became an insightful source of English film news for international moviegoers. The website also served as a business card for Paquet’s career as a journalist, covering Korean cinema for publications such as Cine24, and eventually led to his translation of subtitles for award-winning Korean films, such as Bong Joon-ho’s movie. Parasite and Hirokazu Kore-eda Broker.

“I was lucky with my timing,” said Paquet. “I started writing about Korean cinema at the very time when Korean cinema was reaching out to the rest of the world. It was at a time when the thirst for knowledge about Korean cinema was strong in the world and there was very few people who provided this knowledge.

Paquet began his career as a subtitle translator by proofreading English translations and sometimes co-translating with a Korean friend. “About ten years ago, I felt my Korean was at a level where I could do first drafts,” he said. “And even today, a lot of people criticize my work.”

Over the past decade, he’s worked with some of Korea’s top directors and notes that every experience is different.

“I think the best directors are all very sensitive to the intricacies of translation and they understand how important it is,” said Paquet. “Bong Joon-ho is very handy in terms of translation. Before he started, he sent me four pages of notes and after he finished, there were email exchanges. Then we spent two days sitting in front of the screen going over the translations line by line with the producer and a few other people from CJ. It was a very intensive process. Very useful and interesting for me because I could always ask for anything that interested me.

Broker, directed by Kore-eda, presented a particular challenge as the script was originally written in Japanese. Kore-eda understands some Korean, Paquet said, but mostly worked through an interpreter, who communicated any suggestions for subtitle revisions.

“For me, the big challenge of Broker was the matter of tone,” Paquet said. “Because I think Kore-eda is a director who is able to walk the line between very emotional and overly emotional and he knows how to stay right on the right side of the line. translation. You have to be very specific about where you set the tone. That was my biggest challenge with the film.

Translating subtitles is unlike any other type of translation, says Pacquet. “Audiences can hear the actors speak, they can feel a lot of emotion on screen. The translation has to complement that. I watch the performances very closely while I translate. I often feel like I’m translating a performance rather than text.You should also be aware of issues such as timing.

When the actor reacts to certain information, the translator must ensure that the audience processes it at the same time as the actor.

“In general, I think a lot about character relationships and how characters develop through the story,” Paquet said. “And the dialogue reflects everything that’s going on in the character’s mind. I have to try to be aware of what’s going on below the surface and make sure I’m thinking as much as possible.

Paquet is the author of New Korean Cinema: Breaking the Waves, which covers the industry from the 1980s to the 2000s. He wrote the book in 2009 and notes that one of the obvious ways the industry has changed since then is the growing level of international interest.

“I think Korean filmmakers are now very aware of international audiences,” Paquet said. “And so directors like Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho make movies for global audiences, whether it’s in Korean or in English.”

But the biggest change might be the growing number of independent films currently being produced in Korea. To celebrate these independent films, Paquet founded the Wildflower Film Awards, an independent film festival.

“The independent sector is very dynamic,” he said. “Producing at least 100 feature films a year with incredible acting performances. Exciting new talent comes out every year, but inevitably they get somewhat overlooked. It’s a time every year when we can celebrate the achievements of these filmmakers .

Paquet will attend the London Korean Film Festival, which will run until November 17. He signed on to serve as a panelist, participate in a question-and-answer session after a screening of Broker and present two independent films. One of the movies is called Hot during the day, cold at night.

“There are a lot of independent movies these days that show how ordinary people struggle financially and this one does it with humor,” he said. “It’s a real advantage, but it’s not sarcastic. Or negative. It’s warm. »

He will also present A lonely island in the distant sea.

“It’s about a young woman, who is a talented artist, but gives up on art and goes to a Buddhist temple,” Paquet said. “It’s about the relationship between her and her father. This raises many questions about what is important in life.

During his decades of living in Korea, Paquet also appeared in a few dramas and films, including Hong Sang-soo’s 2020 film. The running woman. His part-time acting career happened by chance.

“Living in Korea, I met a lot of directors,” he said. “Both through subtitling work, but also as a journalist and at film festivals. Eventually I came across a director who urgently needed a foreign actor, so I got into the role. So when other directors saw that, they said, oh, Darcy. Whenever someone needs an undemanding and not too expensive foreign actor, they call me.

He is happy to attend the London Film Festival for the chance to introduce an even wider audience to what he admires about Korean cinema.

“A regular festival has its own program and its own relationship with its audience,” said Paquet. “While a festival like this can really delve into different styles of cinema in Korea. I think it really has the pulse of what’s new and interesting in Korean cinema.

About Monty S. Maynard

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