KIM Ki-duk at the London Korean Film Festival 2011

For me the most exciting news about this year’s festival is that Kim Ki-duk will be present for a director’s Q&A following the closing film, the award winning and intensely personal Arirang in which the director mediates on the nature of the creative process, and confronts his own personal demons. Arirang is a Korean folk song – according to some sources Korea’s unofficial national anthem – which has a number of regional and historical variations, while ostensibly a love song, Arirang’s theme of parting and sorrow provides a potent metaphor for Korea’s suffering as a nation and its enforced division at the end of the Korean War.

Kim Ki-duk is a prolific director, and while noted for what some see as the excessive [sexual] violence of his early films, Crocodile (악어, 1996), The Isle (, 2000)/Bad Guy(나쁜 남자, 2001), his films possess an artistry and authenticity that are the hallmarks of a true auteur. Director Kim’s 2006 mediation on the shifting nature of identity in a globalized world and ephemeral quality of love, Time시간) is my favorite Kim Ki-duk film to date.

Director Kim has also encouraged and nurtured new talent  including  Juhn Jai-hong (Kim wrote the script for Juhn’s directorial debut, Beautiful (아름답다, 2008)  and Cheol-su Jang, who directed the extraordinarily beautiful, horrific and poignant Bedevilled (김복남 살인사건의 전말 , 2010) was assistant director to Kim on Samaritan Girl [사마리아, 2004] and Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter and Spring [봄 여름 가을 겨울 그리고 봄:2003). Juhn Jai-hong’s, second film, also scripted by Kim Ki-duk, Poongson (풍산개, 2011), will have its European Premiere as part of the North & South Section of the Festival.

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