Life, Once Again! - Chapter 714
Although it was titled the Youth Film Festival, the ones leading the ceremony were adults. Someone went up on the stage along with the host’s introduction. This man from the Ministry of Culture, who was in his fifties, cleared his throat before starting to speak. He glanced down at his speech notes from time to time and ended his words with ‘I hope you have a meaningful time’ before he ultimately went down the stairs. Maru mechanically applauded.
“Thank you for your good words. Next, we will watch one of the award-winning pieces, ‘The Reason the Boy went Home Early’.”
Maru turned his head to the left. Three students, who were sitting a little away from him, looked at the screen while exclaiming. It seemed that it was their piece that was being screened.
The lights dimmed and the screen became bright. Five minutes into the movie, people in the audience started laughing. They laughed when they saw a boy trying all sorts of methods to leave school early in order to meet the girl he liked. Comedy was something that was hard to try, so Maru gave his applause to the director, who managed to bring out comedic elements by giving a twist to what would otherwise be slightly boring, as well as the actors who acted oblivious to the whole plot. As the equipment was not up to par, the video and the sound didn’t balance that well, but when it came to ideas, it was better than any other commercial movie in the market right now. This was something that only students could make as they weren’t bound by capital and could pursue pure fun.
“Awardees, please come forward.”
As they had been told about this beforehand, there was no chaos during the moving. All the students became alert and moved sideways to fill the gap.
The award was given by a film director. No titles came to Maru’s mind when he heard that name, so he asked Ando about it. Ando listed a few titles saying that he was quite well known.
“Oh, he shot that one.”
Maru nodded when he heard a familiar title. When the three students that received the prize stood next to the director, the civil servant from the Ministry of Culture stepped up next to them. Soon, flashes burst out. The civil servant didn’t even say a word of congratulations before sitting down in the front row seats again.
“The movie was quite cheerful. I also always thought about how to leave school early when I was a student, so I quite enjoyed it because I thought that the dreams of a student were mixed into the film quite well.”
The host grabbed the microphone and proceeded with the ceremony.
“Following that, we will watch ‘I Walked the Streets’, which got a judges’ special prize. It’s a monochrome movie, so don’t panic when you don’t see any color.”
The host smiled after that and left the stage again.
The lights dimmed once again before another film was screened. Just like he said, the movie was a monochrome one. A girl who failed the CSATs and was walking the streets endlessly was all that the movie was about. The main character muttered to herself as she projected herself onto the objects she saw on the streets. Even though the plot might become boring at the slightest mistake, Maru was absorbed in the movie because her voice was very cozy yet clear. Furthermore, that was on top of the fact that people around his age could sympathize with her. The production itself was rather simple, but he exclaimed when he felt that the ways the director looked at the objects around them were so different. The daring approach of removing all the colors from a movie as well as the fact that it brought the nostalgia of monochrome movies out well made it seem like it was definitely worthy of the judges’ special prize.
Again, three students to Maru’s left stood up and walked to the stage. They were awarded the prize and took a photo as well.
The student who had the role of the director grabbed the microphone.
“I will try my best in order to get another prize like this and to become a good film man. Thank you.”
It was short, but the students here could sympathize with him. Maru could see that Sora and Ando’s eyes had changed. Perhaps the term ‘film man’ provoked them.
“Since a monochrome film is hard to come by these days, I believe that there were a lot of difficulties during the planning and the shoot. It must have been a literal challenge. I also wish to learn from your challenging mindsets.”
The host glanced at the cue sheet before speaking again,
“Before we watch the next piece, I’d like to introduce you to the person who will make this place shine today. Please give him a big round of applause.”
Maru yawned as he applauded. The owner of the center seat of the front row, which had been empty this whole time, had finally appeared. The one who entered through the door on the right was a man with a slightly balding head. The civil servant from the Ministry of Culture stood up and welcomed him. The one who made the cold-looking civil servant stand up was none other than the Mayor of Seoul.
“Mayor, please come this way.”
The host politely pointed at the center of the stage. A round of applause much louder than before spread throughout the theater.
“So there was a different main character. I thought it would be us,” Sora said in a sour voice.
The mayor glanced at the audience seats before starting to speak. He talked about something completely irrelevant to the Youth Film Festival for about three minutes before saying ‘lastly’,
“I am incredibly delighted to meet you all who will lead the film industry in the future. I believe that the people who will make the Korean film industry shine will be among the people here. Also, I thank all of the guests for your efforts in the film festival. I’d especially like to thank the person who has built this New Millennia Building a Cultural Complex, Mister….”
The mayor’s words, which sounded like it was about to end, only ended after mentioning the name of the colossal construction company. As soon as the mayor got away from the microphone. The middle-aged men and women sitting in the front row seats all stood up and got on the stage. They stood in line with the mayor at the center and went back down after being bombarded with flashes.
Maru saw the host touch his in-ear monitor. It seemed that he was given instructions to proceed with the next part.
“Following that, there will be the partial awards.”
Unlike how they were guided at the beginning, they did the main award ceremony immediately. Good Title Award, Commendation Award, Fresh Gaze Awards, etc all the prizes were handed out quickly. Presidents from god-knows-which companies gave the awards, and the students were pushed to the left like they were on a conveyor belt in a factory: they went up to the stage, took photos, and went down. The part where the director got to say a few words wasn’t there either. Some of the students even wrote down what they were going to say on the stage, but they couldn’t say a word. Maru felt pity when he saw the students return to their seats and throw away those pieces of paper. Just revealing their ambitions and getting applauded for it would give them a lot of energy. Perhaps that child might feel disgusted by the film industry and lose interest in the industry as a whole. After all, the most trivial events would trigger them to change their decisions when they’re young.
“Then, allow me to announce the grand prize for the 1st Seoul Youth Film Festival. The award will be handled by Mayor Moon Joojin.”
Maru stood up from his seat. He went around the left of the audience seats and went up to the stage. He glanced at Sora’s face a little when he came up, and her lips looked like they were full of dissatisfaction. Ando also did not hide his bored expression.
Sora went up to the front, got the prize, and did a handshake. Applause could be heard and journalists took photos. One of the journalists requested them to smile. Only then did Sora smile brightly. It was a dry and artificial smile; even an expressionless face would look better than that.
After the award ceremony, they returned to their seats. Maru saw the mayor stand up and leave first with some other people. The host at the front tried to make some jokes to refresh the atmosphere, but the eyes of the students were fixed on the back of the mayor who was leaving. Now they understood why the order of progression was changed. It was the progression team’s consideration for the mayor, who was a busy person. Their consideration for the students was probably infinitely near zero.
“Well then, we should naturally watch the movie that will decorate the end of the ceremony, right? This is the work of the students at Woosung Engineering Highschool. The title is ‘Classroom’.”
The lights slowly dimmed. Maru chuckled as he looked at the empty front row seats. Well, it is a wonder that the mayor made a visit at all for a business that doesn’t even make money.
“If it was going to be like this, they should have mailed the awards,” Sora spoke as though she found this absurd.
“At least they screened the movie. I thought it was going to end just like that with the mayor gone.”
Maru crossed his arms and looked at the screen. Watching the movie on a big screen like this should definitely feel different from seeing it on a small monitor. Even while grumbling, Sora seemed to have realized that her work was going to be screened on a big screen, and started to focus with an expectant look.
The movie screener scattered white light. A moment later, the first scene they were so familiar with came up on the screen. Maru looked at his own acts like he was monitoring. Even the acts he was satisfied with at the time would sometimes later feel flawed, and this time was no different. The way he did his gaze and expressions, the way he changed his tone of voice and breathing patterns. There were a lot of things he wanted to fix.
“We should have zoomed in a little more.”
“Yeah. Back then, it looked pretty good, but now that I’m watching it here, Maru’s expression feels too distant. Is it because of the big screen?”
“It might be like that. We should consider it the next time we shoot.”
“I’ll also keep that in mind.”
Ando and Sora, who were sitting next to him, also observed their work in detail like a professional Go player going through his match. How many people would be 100% satisfied with the work they created? – Maru suddenly had this thought. Perhaps even God clicked his tongue in disappointment after the creation of Heaven and Earth.
As they watched the movie multiple times before, their excitement soon died down. Maru turned his head around to look at the reactions of the other students. Fortunately, they were all focusing on the movie. It seemed that the leaving of the people who had no interest in film helped out with the mood making of the ceremony at least.
The film ended after showing the empty desk of the transfer student. At the same time, people started applauding. Sora and Ando looked embarrassed, but they still smiled in delight. This was the one moment when the creator could be happy with their work.
The host grabbed the mic and came forward again. It seemed like he was going to finish the ceremony. Just then, the host touched his ear before nodding towards the back of the audience seats.
“Looks like we have a really special guest here. I hope she can give good words for the filmpeople of the future.”
The host put down his microphone and made way. Maru looked at the woman taking the right staircase up the stage. She was wearing a white t-shirt and jeans. While it might look simple, the presence she gave off was never as so. The woman stood under the stage lights and took off her baseball cap. Maru’s jaws became agape as he checked that face. An unexpected figure was standing in front of the mic.
“Huh? Ahn Joohyun, it’s Ahn Joohyun!”
“Joohyun-unni! I’m a fan!”
“Noona! Wave your hand!”
Grabbing the mic, Ahn Joohyun walked over to the edge of the stage.
“Ah-ah, can you guys hear me?” Joohyun asked.
When she did, the students answered ‘yes’ with passion.
“I’ll say this before I start. The main characters of this festival aren’t the morons that left halfway through the ceremony; it’s you all. So, there’s no need to feel dejected or disappointed. In the first place, they don’t know jack shit about film. No, let me be blunt here. Those guys came here to shoot photos.”
Her words were brutal. Cloud Hall became quiet in an instant. Maru laughed when he looked at the host trying to hide in the corner. Thanks to his laugh, the stiff atmosphere broke apart. People started applauding and cheering.
“I’ll drop the polite speech with you all because I’m the older one. I watched all the movies they screened, and they were all good. I mean, of course, they’re good. You guys put so much effort into them, right?”
“Don’t feel dejected because you didn’t get the grand prize. It’s just a matter of preference. Everyone here did really well. I mean it. You know me, right? I can’t sugarcoat my words.”
“I saw you swear in a magazine!”
“The F-word? Should I do it again?”
“Fuck you! Tell them to go fuck themselves!”
That was the moment when the ceremony turned into a crazed party.