SXSW SOAK Director Feature – Hannah Bang “I like to collect images and hand draw plans in order to form ideas”

Our film journalist Yasmeen caught up with the Director of the fantastic live action short (SOAK) to talk about her film.

16 year old Yeonsoo Tak meets her mother who ran away, intent on convincing her to return home. However, as the night wears on, Yeonsoo realizes that her mother has hopes of her own, something that had never occurred to Yeonsoo. Stuck between her mother’s new life plans and the pressures from her controlling father, Yeonsoo is faced with an impossible choice.

Hannah Bang’s MFA thesis live action short film SOAK touches on the turmoil of a broken family, this topical film has been selected to premiere at the high profile South by Southwest Film Festival.

HANNAH BANG is a South Korean writer/director with a love of mixing the beautiful and macabre in her storytelling. After graduating from the Cooper Union School of Art in New York, Hannah moved to LA and recently received her M.F.A. from USC Film & TV production program. There, she directed multiple projects including an ensemble theater play PRODIGY for the Hollywood Fringe Fest, a co-directing collaboration feature called VOODOO MACBETH, and a sponsored short film RIPPLE EFFECT that was shot during the pandemic shutdown using virtual production technology and LED screens.

How did you want to show how difficult leaving an abusive relationship can be? The movie tracks Yeonsoo’s journey and change from someone who endures to someone who extends the abuse. I wanted to show how her environment and isolation corner and eventually break her.

Did you do any research about domestic abuse prior to making the film? A lot of it was reading through online forums and posts, written by youth in troubled homes sharing personal experiences. Then I went to books, documentaries, and eventually ended up reaching out to a professor at the school of social work at our university. There was no one statistic or story that allowed me to write the film, but going over all of those resources helped me believe in my characters and their journey.

What is your interest in depicting macabre in beautiful ways? I would describe it as juxtaposing the two, rather than depicting one thing as the other. When you contrast the two, the effect of both are maximized. The pain feels deeper and the beauty more memorable. I also think it’s more reflective of real life, that they come hand in hand. 

 Do you plan to make any films showing the beauty (if any) behind the pandemic?

No. I think we’re still too deep in it. Maybe down the line when the world has actually solved this thing and we’ve had some time to process it. I’m sure there are moments of beauty to be seen during this pandemic– but at the moment I’d rather read about it in the news than watch it in a movie.


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