'Universal' story caught on film

Jung Jin Sung (L) and Lee Kyung-Mee originally from Korea featured in a documentary movie on Christchurch's February Quake.
Jung Jin Sung (L) and Lee Kyung-Mee originally from Korea featured in a documentary movie on Christchurch's February Quake.

A Christchurch couple who lost their two restaurants in the February earthquake are the stars of a documentary that will screen at the New Zealand International Film Festival.

The documentary, Moving, tells how Jung Jin-sung and Lee Kyung- Mee immigrated from South Korea in 2003, built their business from nothing, and then coped with loss in the February 22 quake.

Their restaurants, Sushi Ya and Sura in Colombo St, have been isolated in the red zone since.

South Korean director and producer Park Kiyong concentrated on the Christchurch couple because they were open about their lives.

"I ended up focusing on this couple, because their story was the most interesting. They are very positive and open-minded. They opened up and talked, which is unusual for Korean immigrants," he said.

"They immigrated in 2003 and they started with nothing. They worked hard and became quite successful five or six years later.

"They started with this big restaurant, then they opened a second. Just before the earthquake, they were planning a third restaurant.

"They were really successful, then they were hit by the earthquake. Like everybody else, now they just have to wait and see what happens."

Park has made successful feature films in his home country, but this is his first documentary. The film was put together for entry in the festival in just three weeks.

"It is a very simple film. It is mostly interviews, but in between there are images of the city," he said.

"I made it as a one-man band. It is nothing fancy."

Park said the story was universal.

"When I was listening to their story, it is not only their story but a story of all the immigrants and everybody. It is the story of life," he said.

"They say they can't control their life. If they try to escape from the earthquake, something else will happen. They are talking about life. It interested me very much."

Festival director Bill Gosden said the film asked its audience to "spend a moment contemplating what Christchurch wakes up to every day".