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Film Screening: "Sura: A Love Song" (Yun HWANG, 2023)


Lindsay Addison (Audubon North Carolina), Jieun Cho (APSI), Margaret McKean (Political Science); moderated by Hae-Young Kim (AMES)

Filmmaker Yun HWANG began making a documentary about tidal flats in the Saemangeum estuary, on the west coast of South Korea. Her work came to a halt in 2006 with the completion of the Saemangeum seawall, the world’s longest man-made dyke and the first component of a massive land reclamation effort.

Ten years later, Hwang moved to Gunsan and learned about the Saemangeum Citizens Ecological Group, a local civic organization that has conducted ecological surveys in the estuary for over 20 years. Sura, located in Gunsan, North Jeolla province, is the last remaining tidal flat in the Saemangeum estuary. Hwang was surprised to discover the area is teeming with fauna and resumed work on her documentary, chronicling the beauty of this endangered space.

From the director

This film is the story of citizens who do not yield to the violence of the government project and resist by the act of recording. This is also about the “memories” of people who cannot forget the beauty. The moment I heard the story of a man who can’t forget the group dance of the shorebirds, the wonder, the longing, and sense of loss he must have felt overwhelmed me. That’s what drove me to make this film for 7 years. In this world where the beauty to remember is gradually disappearing, we record today, believing in the power of memories and records.

“This film is a love song sung by people who love the beautiful tidal flat. The ending credits include the names of various living creatures in Sura, such as Saunders's gulls and little terns. Sura residents in the film include a mother bird protecting her baby in the strong wind. The mother bird's love may be no different from that of our parents.” - Kim Sun-ae, The Korea Times

Expert panel

Immediately following the film screening, an expert panel will discuss the ecological impacts of large-scale development projects:

moderated by Professor Hae-Young Kim (Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, Duke)

About the director

Yun Hwang has been making documentaries over two decades. Farewell (2001), her second feature-length documentary about the lives of tigers in a zoo, became a turning point in her life. Since then, she has made films with a focus on the relationship between non-human animals and human beings.

Her films have been invited to many film festivals around the world. Farewell was screened at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam's Competition for First Appearance, and won Unpa Award (Best Korean Documentary Award) at Busan International Film Festival and Excellence Award at Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival. Following Farewell, Silent Forest (2004), about endangered wildlife, and One Day on the Road (2006), focusing on the roadkill issue, were all screened at many film festivals including Busan International Film Festival. An Omnivorous Family's Dilemma (2015) was screened at Berlin and Jeonju International Film Festivals, and won the Grand Prize at Seoul International Eco Film Festival. Her films have formed new cultural discourses through theatrical release and active community screening. Nominated for the Chicken and Egg Award 2023. She received the Filmmaker of the Year award from "Women In Film Korea" in 2023.