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“Truth cannot be impartial, but there are truths to be told”

Industry Report: Documentary

Jin Jeon • Producer, J.J. Productions

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The Emerging Producer from this year’s guest country explains why she produces documentaries and discusses what lies ahead for the profession

Jin Jeon • Producer, J.J. Productions

An interview with Jin Jeon, producer for South Korean company J.J. Productions and selected for the 2022 Emerging Producers programme. Read her EP profile here.

Why do you produce documentaries? Do you understand documentary film as an instrument of social and political change?
Jin Jeon: I’m a director and producer from South Korea. I grew up internationally, raised as a ‘third culture kid’ in over ten cities across four countries during my formative years.

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My forte is that I was never one to follow the societal order since every culture has its own norms. I personally believe that there’s no new story under the sun, but representation and perspective is everything. Films cannot change the world – that’s an unrealistic delusion – but it has the power to bring forth a new perspective. Films are a beginning of awareness through the opening of a conversation. Films have the ability to embrace different perspectives of a particular culture and people by questioning what is so often taken for granted, and to break preconceived notions and stereotypes. Truth cannot be impartial, but there are truths to be told. This is why I produce documentaries.

The pandemic had an impact on the entire sector. How did it influence your work as a producer? Have the projects that you work on changed?
The pandemic has changed the way we work. Real life events and gatherings have been postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic, and travel has become difficult, causing cancellations or delays to filming. But working internationally, I’ve already been accustomed to online video meetings to cross borders, even during the pre-corona days. We as human beings are resilient, but we are also very much in need of human contact and real life exchanges that are so vital to creativity, inspiration and the rich experience of life itself – which has been few and far between – that’s a real pity.

What do you think is the future of the distribution of documentary films?
OTT (over-the-top) platforms are the future of distribution. Distribution in the traditional sense has taken a hit, with less cinema attendance, more so due to the pandemic. But I believe that films are still very much a part of our lives, so even though theatres and film festivals are difficult to come by, OTT platforms have garnered a significant role in bringing films to our homes, in this new era.

What projects do you have underway?
My current project due for release by the fall of 2022 is a documentary provisionally titled Banking on Eggs. It is a film that is relevant and timely as it deals with the universal topic of fertility and a woman’s place in society. It questions the norms of capitalism, the societal rules, a conservative society that is moving from the traditional to the modern, and the absurdity of the laws that govern a woman’s body and her personal choices around fertility.

The film is a contribution to the place of women in modern society, or the ‘non-place’ bringing forth the questions that women in the mid to late thirties are grappling with, while faced with the biological ticking clock. It’s an intimate and personal story told with humour and wit, on the backdrop of a modernizing world where birth-rates are globally dwindling, and childbearing is taking on a new meaning.

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EMERGING PRODUCERS is a leading promotional and educational project, which brings together talented European documentary film producers. The programme is organised and curated by the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival.

Deadline for applications to the EMERGING PRODUCERS 2023 edition is 31 March 2022.

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