BUSAN, Oct. 10 (Yonhap) -- The idea of shooting a road movie starring a bull shooed away investors, but the two-month, tiny-budget project was a life-changing experience for those involved in the filmmaking, director Yim Soon-rye said Sunday.
"Rolling Home with a Bull" tells the story of a never-do-well, 30-something man, Seon-ho, who happens to set off with a bull to the countryside. The Buddhist idea imbues the film that a bull as a sacred animal brings enlightenment to humans.
"My assistant directors saw a bull being sold off in a cattle market and said they wouldn't eat beef again," Yim, a vegetarian, said in a press conference at the Pusan International Film Festival. "That decision didn't go long, but I find it meaningful that there was such a change of conceptions."
Seon-ho lives with his parents in their rural home, writing poetry. Fed up with his aged parents' hard work and their attachment to their bull, Seon-ho takes the bull to a cattle market but finds himself unable to let go of the animal.
He gets a phone call of his friend's death, and the widow (Kong Hyo-jin), once Seon-ho's best friend and heartbreaker, joins him on his journey with the bull.
The road movie sets off in a mountainous village in Gangwon Province in northeastern South Korea and moves all the way down to Yeonggwang in South Jeolla Province for two months, a long and consuming journey shot with a single 10-year-old bull.
Kim Yeong-pil, who plays the male character, said his filmmaking with the bull changed his own life, recounting his encounter with a stray cat in a street stall.
"I knew nothing about interacting with animals," Kim said. "But I was waiting for my noodles one night after the shooting, and this cat came in and sat in front of me. It didn't flinch when I approached. I don't know why I did it. Maybe, it was the influence of alcohol, but I found myself taking it to my car. Ever since, it's been living with me."
With its unique theme, the film had difficulty finding investors, and several actors turned down the cast offer, said Yim, who drew critical acclaim with "Three Friends" (1996), "Waikiki Brothers" (2001) and "Forever the Moment" (2008). Many of the fantastic elements that would need computer graphics and art renderings, such as the bull talking to Seon-ho, had to be omitted in the scenario.
Yim said investor perceptions of female directors further strained her filmmaking.
"I couldn't use so much money and had to exclude visual elements and make the story realistic," Yim said.
"There's no difference in moviemaking for female directors and male directors. But there still seems to be people who think so. I hope producers and investors could open their hearts more toward female directors."
Yim Soon-rye talks about her latest film, "Rolling Home with a Bull," at a press conference at the Pusan International Film Festival. (Yonhap)