Epidemic disaster in Emergency Declaration

Picture of the movie Bi-Sang-Seon-Eon (Emergency Declaration) © SHOWBOX, MAGNUM9


For his Cannes debut, the South Korean director Han Jae-Rim has pulled off a surprise with Bi-sang-seon-eon (Emergency Declaration). Presented Out of Competition, it is a disaster film recounting a bioterrorist attack during flight KI501 to Hawaii. The actor Song Kang-Ho, member of the Feature Film Jury this year, plays a police officer who is stuck on the ground while his wife is on board the plane.

When he began this project, Han Jae-Rim 's aim was realism: he spent a year in meticulous pre-production, during which he worked with lighting, cinematogrophy, set design and special effects teams via detailed story-boards. The screenplay was finalised in 2019 and the shott began in early 2020, before the pandemic. However, the film echoes the world health situation eerily closely, as if  Han Jae-Rim had anticipated the events which would cause contagion, a word we now hear every day. "I couldn't help but be surprised when I saw with my own eyes everything I had imagined in my head becoming reality," he admitted.

When a passenger begins to develop increasingly strange symptoms, everyone on the plane finds themselves condemned. This includes Jae-hyuk, on her way to Hawaii to get treatment for her daughter's eczema. She is the wife of In-ho, the police officer who stays on the ground and tries everything he can to tackle the disaster. But the other passengers and crew are also confronted with the urgent situation. The South Korean director worked alongside head set designer Lee Mok-Won, who worked on the model of the train from Train to Busan by Yeon Sang-ho, to reproduce the oppressive, confined space of a plane no one can escape from.

As the action goes back and forth between the claustrophobic atmosphere of the plane and the situation on the ground, ethical and political challenges arise, as do issues with the media. This is a suspense film whose impact is all the stronger because of the way it resonates with our current reality.