Monday, July 23, 2012

Interview: "Ghost" with Dahci Ma

This week we put the spotlight on Dahci Ma, director of short film Ghost, which is a part of our K-MYSTERY section in our International Short Film Showcase program this year.

Ghost follows a mysterious man, who hides from the police in an empty house. He is caught up in a fantasy world brought on by extreme hunger and anxiety. However, what he faces in the end is the darkest side of himself in this austere, deceptively simple short with an unnerving, undercurrent of menace.

The film has had an amazing festival circuit run across the world, having screened over 30 film festials including the likes of Cannes Film Festival, Sitges Film Festival and Chicago International Film Festival. It even competed in the prestigious Blue Dragon Awards' short film competition category. Ghost was also awarded the Honorable Mention Award, Best Production Design and Best Special Effects awards at the LA New Wave International Film Festival.

Read on for a short interview with director Dahci Ma and her film Ghost.

How did you get into the film industry?
I have never made money out of being in the film industry, and it is for that reason that I simply consider myself as a filmmaker, and not a film industry person. I got into film as an excuse to leave school, while I was a freshman in junior high school. I didn't like school, so I told my parents that I would get into film. Even though they did not understand my decision, I did it anyway. Fortunately, my friends and I always had a digital camera, which we used like a toy. During this time, I learned more about the camera and filmmaking.

What or who inspires you as an artist?
I realised that an empty space was talking to me, while contemplating Candida Höfer's photograph of a temporarily deserted, uninhabited public space. Höfer was an artist who influenced me immensely. She taught me how to look at space. As I grow as a filmmaker, I travel to many places and meet many people. There is a variation between the films I have made, but one thing stays constant: my films represent a reflection of the time and space I have passed through. Feeling the energy of space is always a first inspiration for me to imagine a story of people who lived there, or who are living there.

Can you tell us more about Ghost?
Like my other previous films, there is a man in a state of alienation in Ghost. During an escape from the police, a man hides in an empty house and imagines himself playing with the girl he raped and killed, as he feels a growing sense of unease and hunger.

The story was based on an actual event that happened in the second biggest city in Korea, Busan in 2010. I developed the structure of the film while researching this story in Busan for a month. Ghost is not just a film about the criminal, but it is also about the space where he committed the crime. In reality, people's attitude towards this space and the crime becomes ironic. The police patrolling the area do not realise the criminal is nearby, while the neighbours only worry about the depreciation of their land. The young victim is of none of their concerns.

Are you excited to have an Australian Premiere at KOFFIA?
Of course, I am very excited about having a Sydney Premiere! I've already had a screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival last year, which gave me the chance to meet a very passionate audience. I am very curious to see how a Sydney audience will react to this film.

What's next for you? 
I'm currently working on a feature film and am looking forward to meeting new people.

Watch the trailer of Ghost

Visit Dahci Ma's website:

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