Posted on Dec 5, 2012

Urban Island, a Seoul based music video documentary by filmmakers Nils Clauss and Namhui Park, featured on PROMO NEWS.

Featured on PROMO NEWS, Urban Island, a groundbreaking music video-style documentary by Nils Clauss and Park Namhui, takes viewers on a journey through the urban landscape of Seoul. PROMO NEWS, curated by David Knight, founder of BUG and editorial director of the UK Music Video Awards, serves as a premier platform celebrating the best in music video creativity.

A Glimpse into Urban Island

David Knight, recognizing the extraordinary narrative crafted by Clauss and Park. He describes Urban Island “as a million miles away from the upbeat ‘Gangnam Style,’ offering a genuine portrayal of Seoul”. The documentary unfolds the life of Jong-Kwon Hong, a homeless recycle collector in his forties. He endeavors to save for a motorcycle. Set against the epic ambiance provided by Sigur Rós, the documentary captures the tear-jerking atmosphere. It showcases the charismatic optimism sprouting from the resilient Jong-Kwon Hong.

The Essence of Urban Island

Urban Island weaves its tale based on the song VARÚÐ by Icelandic band Sigur Rós. It paints a portrait of Jong-Kwon Hong. He is a resilient individual navigating the harsh realities of Seoul’s streets for over eight years. Part of a small homeless community, they camp in a modest park near the train tracks of Yongsan Station. At night he move through the city to make a living by collecting recyclables. The documentary documents the hardships faced by those on society’s margins, challenging prevailing prejudices.

Seoul’s Urban Landscape: A Dichotomy

The park near Yongsan Station, frequented by this resilient community, stands as both refuge and testament to societal exclusion. This seemingly insignificant space, both visually and in reality, transforms into a small island amidst the bustling urban center of Seoul. The documentary invites the audience to contemplate whether it serves as an island of refuge or exile.

A Cinematic Collaboration

Collaborating with Namhui Park as a director duo, Nils Clauss not only directed but also took on the roles of cinematographer, editor, and colorist during post-production. Premiering at the group exhibition at “Culture Station Seoul 284,” Urban Island clinched the 1st Prize Audience Award at the 7th Premiers Courts International Film Festival in 2012. Further, it gained recognition by being shortlisted for the 2013 Film Grant Award by “The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography & Film.”

SIGUR RÓS: A Sonic Tapestry

The emotive soundtrack of Urban Island is set to the ethereal tunes of Sigur Rós. Formed in Reykjavík in 1994, the Icelandic post-rock band, with lead vocalist Jón Þór “Jónsi” Birgisson, bassist Georg Hólm, and keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson, brings a unique blend of classical and minimal aesthetic elements to their music. Known for their atmospheric sound, the band’s vocals, sung in Icelandic and non-linguistic vocalizations termed Vonlenska, add depth to the documentary’s emotional landscape.

Celebrate the convergence of storytelling, cinematography, and music in Urban Island. Dive into the Seoul that lies beyond the glitz, portraying the rawness and resilience of those often overlooked. PROMO NEWS proudly features this documentary, offering viewers an opportunity to witness a Seoul unseen.