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[Herald Interview] ‘Anchor’ director dives into women‘s fear of motherhood

Director Jeong Ji-yeon (Acemaker Movieworks)
Director Jeong Ji-yeon (Acemaker Movieworks)

Director Jeong Ji-yeon, 38, said her new film “Anchor” intentionally deals with topics related to maternal love in a way that commercial films often do not show.

“I was not happy with commercial films and dramas depicting mothers as simply people who are willing to make sacrifices (for their children),” Jeong said. “I had a problem with such stereotypical depictions of mothers.”

The director explained that she was also one of many women who was afraid to have a baby because of the stereotype that mothers should be ready to make huge sacrifices.

“As a person who devotes her life to making films and writing scripts, even thinking of having a baby gave me chills. I thought it was impossible, so I did not dare try,” she said. “I thought that once everyone can understand that mothers do not have to be perfect, women will feel less scared of having children. At least that is what I felt. I also think that this pressure is the reason why some crimes are committed by mothers.”

In Jeong’s film, Se-ra (Chun Woo-hee) is a famous news presenter with a mother, So-jung (Lee Hye-young), who micromanages her life. One day, Se-ra receives a phone call from a woman named Mi-so, five minutes before her news program goes on air. Mi-so claims she is about to be killed by a stranger and asks Se-ra to report her story, adding that Se-ra is her idol. Se-ra tries to ignore the phone call, but her mother pushes her to visit Mi-so’s home, saying it will be a good opportunity for Se-ra to prove her ability at work. At Mi-so’s place, Se-ra discovers the dead bodies of the mother and her daughter.

As Se-ra looks deeper into the case, she finds out that it was Mi-so who killed her daughter and committed suicide. The case is also possibly related to Mi-so’s mysterious psychiatrist In-ho (Shin Ha-kyun).

Director Jeong Ji-yeon (Acemaker Movieworks)
Director Jeong Ji-yeon (Acemaker Movieworks)

Jeong talked about why she selected Se-ra’s occupation as a news presenter.

“I thought that it was perfect to show the hidden side of women with successful careers,” Jeong said. “Also their (news presenters’) private lives are not often shared with the public, so I figured there is room for me to create a story.”

When Se-ra visited Mi-so’s house, it was flooded with water. The director emphasized that this water was an important element in the film that symbolizes various things.

“Water has a horrifying image because people can be drowned in it, but there is also a sense of liberty that water provides. If you ride the flow of water, I think people will have no problem living a peaceful life,” she said.

The water in Mi-so’s house is also used to symbolize a mother’s womb, according to Jeong.

“I hope audiences can also feel what I tried to show,” she said.

Since the film was her debut feature, Jeong added that she experienced many difficulties directing it.

“It was very different from writing the script. I had a hard time creating a mood for a horror film,” she said. “Also, it was stressful to direct a child actor in a death scene. The child was very professional, but I felt uncomfortable.”

Director Jeong Ji-yeon’s debut feature “Anchor” (Acemaker Movieworks)
Director Jeong Ji-yeon’s debut feature “Anchor” (Acemaker Movieworks)

For her next project, Jeong said she would like to direct a film that centers around a mother.

“This film mainly centers around a daughter and her relationship with her mother. Next time I want to wholly show a mother’s point of view,” Jeong said. “I am interested in creating thrillers with women’s stories and communicating with audiences about this topic.“

“Anchor” will hit local theaters on Wednesday.

By Song Seung-hyun (