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Documentary, Experimental ㅣ JEONJU Lab: Feature Length

Guest Workers

LEE Sanhah
Korea 90min 4K Color/B&W Documentary, Experimental
Production StatusProduction
Goal of ParticipationCo-Production, World Sales, Film Festival Screening
Production budget470,500,000 KRW
Budget Required393,500,000 KRW
Secured budget JEONJU International Film Festival [ JEONJU Lab First Fund Grant ] : 5,000,000 KRW · Korean Film Council [ Independent Film Production Support ] : 60,000,000 KRW · DMZ International Documentary Film Festival[ Incubating Fund ] : 2,000,000 KRW · DMZ International Documentary Film Festival[ Development Fund ] : 2,000,000 KRW · Self-funding [-] : 8,000,000 KRW
LOGLINE

Migrant women’s stories repeated across borders. A dispatched Korean nurse to Germany asks migrant people in Korea if they are okay.

SYNOPSIS

Where did the Korean-German nurses, or 'Guest Workers', go?
We are revisiting women who went to Germany after half a century. We remove the narrative of nationalism deeply rooted in Korean society and listen to voices based on unheard history and identity of individuals.
Today, their voices are echoed not far away.
From a country of migrants to a country of immigrants, Korea has now become home to guest workers. In an age of the increasingly gendered nature of immigration and outsourced domestic labor, migrant's storiesin Korea deserves attention.
From the struggle for the right to stay in Germany to the anti-discrimination law campaign in Korea in 2022. The time and place may be different, but the lives of migrants are connected to each other. Meet the guest workers in the field of life transcending the times and borders.

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT

I had the pleasure of talking to first-generation Korean migrant women who arrived in Germany 50 years ago to volunteer at a hospice organization for Koreans. Their stories were beyond anything I could have imagined.
Korean nurses and miners dispatched to Germany can be found in textbooks and propaganda films as contributors to Park Chung-hee's economic development plan. They are portrayed as our innocent sisters and brothers. However, few people are aware of their pro-democracy movement and the fight for the right to stay in Germany in the 1970s.
I thought as I saw them pioneering various forms of life at their old age. Have I ever met a retired immigrant in Korea?
European society and Korean society are moving forward with a 50-year time difference. Is our society ready to confront the perceptions, bias, and unreasonable discrimination against immigrants who are living with us in various ways?

INTERVIEW
What inspired you to start this project?
In the winter of 2019, I completed volunteer training for the Korean hospice organization in Berlin. Nurses dispatched to Germany, who were familiar with textbooks, retired a long time ago and now need the care of activity assistants.
I think the first time I visited the hospice group was because I missed my grandmother in Korea.
Then I met them one after another, and I discovered that their lives are much bigger and more colorful than the lives of the dispatch nurses that I had been learning about.
The thought that "I should archive their individual interviews” was the beginning of Guest Workers.
Is there any scene or emotion you want the audience to remember after watching this movie?
I want people to accept their story in the film as their own story. I think that is where the solidarity starts.
I have not met many Germans who were aware of Korean nurses while introducing the Guest Workers project several times in Germany. Except for those who worked in immigration or majored in immigration history. This felt rather unfair. A society that cannot maintain itself without the presence of migrants should be properly aware of its background. Then, how fair are we in Korean society?
I hope the audience can hear the voices and messages of the characters in Guest Workers. It is time for everyone to join forces to promote a better tomorrow, by, for instance, abolishing the employment permit system and enacting anti-discrimination laws. Let us start by recognizing them within us.
DIRECTOR
LEE Sanhah
Born in 1996, Itaewon, Yongsan District, Seoul, Korea. She has been making films since 2016. She directed short films such as Where We Were (2016), The Shuttlerun (2017), and The Shifts (2018), and shot the feature documentary Grown Up (2017). She currently lives in Berlin, Germany, where she is working on the feature documentary Guest Worker.
Where We Were (2016), The Shuttlerun (2017), The Shift (2018)
PRODUCER
BANPARK Jieun
Born in 1987. She studied art and media at the University of the Arts Berlin. Starting with the short film Daekyojip – The Tailor Under The Bridge (2018), she directed Life Unrehearsed (2022) which won the New Choice Award at the Seoul Independent Film Festival 2022.
Life Unrehearsed (2022)
CONTACTsanhah.lee@gmail.com / jieunworks@gmail.com
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