The Funeral of the Unknown

by Miyoung Kim

Found-footage cinema is a genre that has gotten a lot of attention for its technique in recent years with mockumentaries, but it’s also a genre that has been reimagining personal and social contexts with rediscovered footage from Bruce Connor and Douglas Gordon to Jean-Luc Godard. Although Harun Farocki and Ken Jacobs have been introduced in Korea, the recent rise of found-footage films, which have increased in number, can be examined in several contexts. With the expansion of digital image technology and the entry into the corona era, previously unidentified selves and events are being called out of the archives and into the editing tools.

«The Funeral of the Unknown» asks us to become historians of the times and ourselves, archaeologists of images, or collectors, to search through the archives and bury the morals of the times. (‘Archives and Morals’, Godard «Image Book») From the Gangnam Station murders, hidden camera videos, and the Sewol ferry, he collects the time of death, recalls events that could have happened to him, and speaks on behalf of the dead. It speaks not of your death, but of my death, our death, through the pain that has become embedded in us. The letters become images, and through the way the placement and shaping of the letters connect to the content, the letters become tremors of empathy. Taking the footage taken by the Coast Guard plane around 9:13 on April 16, 2014, the film dreams of an alternate parallel universe where everyone returns safely, and at that moment, everyone is still alive.

For us in the aftermath of the 2022 tragedy, the manga at the beginning of the film sounds like a call to action after mourning. “Grieve endlessly for the dead. (……) Grieve for the young who died before their time. Grieve for a world that allows death to take us from the world.” (Paul Auster) The film asks why it is urgent in our time to move toward “the practice of history, not the history of film” (Bill Morrison).

Writer: Miyoung Kim
Seoul Independent Film Festival 2022 Jury Member