“I wanted to make a black comedy”

While expecting their first child, a young couple sees their life disrupted by the husband’s sleepwalking attacks, episodes whose aggression intensifies. Meeting with Jason Yu, director of a clever first film, SleepGrand Prix of the Gérardmer International Fantastic Film Festival, which navigates between fear and more comical moments.

Why did you choose sleep as the subject of your first feature film?

Sleep disorders are a breeding ground for imagining horrible situations.

The film presents itself as a sort of chronicle of the life of a young couple…

Yes. I had in mind, as a starting point, the desire to describe certain aspects of married life. It’s an idea that was born from my own questions and my own experience, from the long relationship I had with my girlfriend before marrying her. There was the material for a film there, at least its starting point. The film relies heavily on the chemistry that occurred between the two main actors. Jeong Yu-mi and Lee Sun-kyun have already made four films together. They know each other well and are friends. They have good experience in conflict scenes.

Read the review: Article reserved for our subscribers “Sleep”: conjugality told like a horror film

Why this division into three parts?

Each part had to work on a particular element. This also allowed me to set up an inversion mechanism, so that the place of the characters changes in the mind of the spectator and that the third part is the reverse of the first. I wanted an ambiguous ending, where we can’t decide if the rational explanation is the right one or if the ghost exists. The public is divided. Half of the spectators questioned lean towards a rational explanation, the other half towards the existence of the ghost.

There are a lot of humorous elements in the film…

I wanted to make a black comedy. I was inspired by Korean filmmakers from the previous generation like Bong Joon-ho or Park Chan-wook, whom I consider my masters. There is of course a sociological dimension to laughter, even if I mainly wanted to make an entertaining film.

What was your training?

After studying cinema, I became an assistant on several films, notably Okja, by Bong Joon-ho. In Korea, assistantship is only a step towards directing, unlike in other countries where it is a profession that you can practice for the rest of your life. I had written a script that I wanted to shoot myself, as quickly as possible.

Was it complicated to convince a producer to finance the film?

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