Flare 2019: Flora by Chaerin Im

This experimental short titled Flora explores gender and sexuality in a unique way. The director, Chaerin Im, chats to us here about breaking conventions and speaking up against gender discrimination.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO DIRECTING?

CHAERIN: For me, I don’t think of directing as a separate role in the collective filmmaking process. Since I do experimental animated films, the focus is more about producing the images and movements, while putting them together into a coherent structure. Since 2016 I wanted to incorporate moving images from my graphic/illustration background, which naturally led to experimental animation.

WHERE DID THE CONCEPT OF THE STORY COME FROM?

CHAERIN: The concept of the story came from my experience living as a woman in South Korea, where there is still a strong patriarchal hierarchy in both societal and private lives. I wanted to speak about these stereotypes of gender and sexuality, and break down these conventions in the process. 

DID YOU COME ACROSS ANY OBSTACLES DURING THE MAKING OF THE FILM? IF YES, HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

CHAERIN: The obstacle I faced was the reality that the work I am producing abroad will not be welcomed in my home country due to its subject matter and feminist approach. To make a better future, South Korea women are now speaking up against gender discrimination and social misconceptions that objectify and regulate women. But the hatred and misogyny that goes against it has become stronger as well, which makes it hard to work on this subject matter in South Korea.

WHAT WAS THE BEST PART OF THE EXPERIENCE OF MAKING THIS FILM?

CHAERIN: The best experience I had while making Flora was the moment I finally figured out the visual concept and method of animation. When I started producing frames for the film, it felt like I found the golden nugget that I was struggling to find the whole semester.

HOW DID YOU FIND EXPLORING GENDER AND SEXUALITY THROUGH EXPERIMENTAL FILM?

CHAERIN: I never thought I would go on the direction of experimental film, but I knew that I wanted to talk about gender and sexuality for a long time. Exploring these subjects through experimental animation felt limitless, since experimental animation intrinsically breaks conventional rules and can produce something new and unfamiliar. 

WHAT DO YOU WANT THE AUDIENCE TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR FILM?

CHAERIN: I wanted the audience to realize that there is not much of a difference between gender, sexuality, genitals and that twitchy feeling in their bottoms (especially for the audience who have a penis) haha.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?

CHAERIN: Currently I am working on a film, that is again about sex and genitals, but much playful than Flora. This will be the second film I produce during my time with the CalArts Experimental Animation MFA program.

ONLY 4% OF THE HIGHEST GROSSING FILMS IN THE PAST DECADE WERE DIRECTED BY WOMEN, BEING A FEMALE DIRECTOR CAN BE DISHEARTENING IN THIS ENVIRONMENT. WHAT WOULD YOUR ADVICE BE FOR ASPIRING FEMALE DIRECTORS OUT THERE?

CHAERIN: We have to keep speaking up, resist the inequality, be honest with the anger we have and keep on producing works representing us. It is okay to be frustrated. Let’s transform that frustration to positive energy through filmmaking.

Interview by Sophie Duncan & Caris Rianne

Flora is showing in the IN THE PLACE OF THE REAL shorts collection on Wed 27 March. For tickets and information please visit here. You can view the trailer below along with links to the film makers social media platforms.

Instagram / Behance / Vimeo