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'Jam Docu Gangjung' (2011) fails to explain difficult issue
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승인 2012.01.20  14:38:42
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▲ Photo courtesy Cinema Dal

In Jazz, jam sessions refer to impromptu performances. “Jam Docu Gangjung” (2011) is an omnibus-style documentary created by eight active independent documentary directors.

The film’s directors, who are all against the construction of the naval base, came together to examine the Jeju naval base controversy at Gangjeong village, Seogwipo City, from various perspectives, ranging from community conflicts to its impact on future generations as well as its effects on the environment and history.

In its production notes, it is stated that the film’s purpose “is to inform the public about Gangjeong resident’s scream to the world.” In that sense, the directors successfully accomplished their goal. “Jam Docu Gangjung” does not hide its intentions. It is very clear that the film is against the construction of a naval base in Gangjeong.

Documentaries are often perceived as objective and factual. However, according to Oscars.org (the official Web site for The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences), there are subjective documentaries “in which the audience is aware of the filmmaker’s opinions.”

The goal of this documentary was to “Make it with one’s own style, and ... spread the words as soon as possible. Only 100 days from planning to completion of the project.”

Considering the relatively short production period, perfection is not expected. However, the camerawork resembles that of home videos. It also lacks factual information, and the exact history of the Gangjeong naval base controversy.

Kyungsoon focuses on the reasons a well-known film critic is fasting to stop the construction. Kim Tae Il tries to listen to what villagers have to say, and Kwon Hyo depicts how the construction is impacting the children of Jeju. Yang Dong Gyu, who is from Jeju, solely captures the Gurumbi shore. Jeong Woon Seok captures an underground music band that performs as a way of protest. Choi Ha Dong Ha captures two supermarkets whose owner’s are divided by their differing opinions over the construction of the naval base.

While the directors manage to cover these various perspectives, the plot seems too fragmented.

Furthermore, the directors wanted to persuade people to support their opinion. Including some facts and information from the pro-naval base construction side might have made the project seem a little more genuine.

Nevertheless, it is uniquely produced through the social production method, meaning the process of production and distribution is shared with the public, and possible profits will go back to the community. Anyone who is interested in the project can either donate money or their talent. The film’s copyright will be given to the society as well.

However, since the Korean Navy decided to construct the naval base in 2007, I can’t stop wondering, as one resident says to one of the directors in the film, “You had a chance to stop this earlier, why are you here so late?”

For more information, visit blog.naver.com/Jamdocu (in Korean).
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