Kim’s most experimental film to date, Real Fiction was shot in just 200 minutes with eight 35mm cameras, ten digital cameras and twelve sequence directors. It’s title, translated literally from Korean as ‘state of reality’, is as much a tongue-in-cheek contrivance as an allusion to the reality of the protagonist’s own state of mind as captured in real-time.
In this 85-minute thriller, a street artist finds himself harassed by thugs, until a girl captures his image on her digital camcorder. Running into a version of ‘himself’, encapsulating painful memories, the artist murders his other self and heads out onto the street, exacting cruel revenge on all those who have wronged him.
Real Fiction is more than a technical and logistic filmmaking triumph. The coherent story line, seamless continuity and gripping tension are demonstrative of Kim Ki-Duk’s mastery of the filmmaking craft. The fury of the film’s production, segmented into twelve sequences, matches that of the protagonist’s violent impulsiveness. One cannot help but see the lead character’s responses as evolving onscreen as they occur. A project of sophisticated, explosive rawness – this Pusan Film Festival hit is a fascinating addition to Kim’s film oeuvre. - Melbourne International Film Festival 2002