The film 'In the Absence' tells the story of April 16, 2014 when the Sewol-ho Ferry sank off the South Korean coast, leading to over 300 deaths - the majority of them high school students on a field trip.
The film has been nominated for the Best Documentary Short Subject category at the Oscars…becoming the first Korean documentary to compete in the category.
It's been almost six years since one of the country's worst maritime disasters, but many people still resent the government's search and rescue operations at the time and its follow-up steps, which appeared to try to hide the truth.
"What I focused on was the pain of the bereaved families and divers. I wanted to see where that pain began."
Using recorded phone calls from the tragic day,…the film subtly yet powerfully tells the story of what happened on April 16 and what followed.
Of course, the 29-minute-long documentary could not have been possible without the help of the bereaved families.
"The bereaved families said 'let the world know of the incident by earning an Oscar nomination' when I was making the film. I'm really glad I could do that."
In 2018, the film won the Grand Jury Prize at America's largest documentary festival DOC NYC.
It also took the First Prize at the World Press Photo Digital Storytelling Contest for Long Form in 2019.
"At film festivals, people feel the movie. After screening, their eyes are red and some are wiping away their tears."
'In the Absence' will compete against four American films at the 92nd Academy Awards on February 9th.
Choi Jeong-yoon, Arirang News.