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Documentary filmmaker dies of cancer at age 50

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Published : 2013-12-13 19:17
Updated : 2013-12-13 19:17

Lee Seong-gyou
Documentary filmmaker Lee Seong-gyou, who is best known for his 2010 film “My Barefoot Friend,” died on Friday. He was 50.

He started shooting “My Barefoot Friend,” a film documenting the life of a 50-something rickshaw operator named Shalim living in Calcutta, India, in 1999. It took him more than 10 years to complete the film, which became the first Asian feature-length documentary to be nominated in the competition lineup of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in 2010.

Lee was diagnosed with the final stage of liver cancer in May, while editing his upcoming feature film “SHIVA, Throw Your Life.” His condition deteriorated and he was transferred into a hospice facility in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, earlier this month.

Just two days before his death, on Dec. 11, Lee attended a special premiere of his film at the CGV theater in Chuncheon. Some 500 viewers filled the theater venue, all wearing a white T-shirt with a drawing of Lee’s face, to see the film about four people traveling through India. The fictional film is reportedly loosely based on Lee’s real-life experiences. Lee showed up in a wheelchair, and burst into tears as the audience members greeted him.

“SHIVA, Throw Your Life” is scheduled to hit local theaters on Dec. 19.

By Claire Lee (

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