Category Archives: London Korean Film Festival

Korean Film Nights 3: Patchwork Unwrapping Korean Cinema

After the success of ‘Chills and Thrills’ and ‘On Foreign Ground: Visions of Migration’, the KCCUK is in the middle of its third mini-season of 2017. The title refers to Kim Hong-joon’s My Korean Cinema (2002-2006). Details of which are here. Kim leant his trade as an assistant to Im Kwon-taek, one of South Korean’s most noted and prolific directors. My Korean Cinema is a personal video series which stems from his work as a director at PiFAN Fantastic Film Fest and Commissioner for Korean Film Commission.
This strand has been curated by students on Birkbeck’s Film Programming and Curating MA.

Films coming up in this strand are as below:

The Knitting Club (Ya-geun Dae-sin Tteu-gae-jil, dir. PARK So-hyun: 2016).

This documentary focusses on Nana and her co-workers who start up a knitting club in order to bring some creativity and companionship in a world dominated by work and alienation. The underlying message of the documentary is that change is always possible, even if it happens in the most subtle of ways.

Date: 3rd August 2017
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: KCCUK
Booking: free via Eventbrite.

The March of Fools (Ba-bo-deul-ui Haeng-jin, dir. HA Gil-jong: 1977).

One of the most important and influential films in South Korean cinematic history, The March of Fools has rarely been screened outside of Korea. The film concerns the relationship between a philosophy student, Byeong-tae (Yoon Moon-seob) and a French literature student, Young-jae (Lee Young-ok) who get together after a group blind date between the male philosophy students and the female French students. The relationship between Byeong-tae and Young-jae has no future as he has passed the mandatory physical for military service. While the 1960s and 1970s was a time of youthful rebellion as documented in many films of the time, the protagonists in The March of Fools are represented as directionless: Young-cheol’s (Ha Jae-young), Byeong-tae’s best friend, goal in life is to catch a whale even though there are no whales on the Korean peninsula. While there is an implicit critique of the status quo in the film, scenes of student demonstrations (keeping in mind that this was produced by a director who experienced those of 6th May 1961) were cut from the theatrical version.

Date: 10th August
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: KCCUK
Booking: free via Eventbrite

Garak Market Revolution (Janggiwang: Galaksijang Lebollusyeon, dir. Jung Da-won, 2016).

This social-issue class based comedy focusses on the lives of contemporary youths in South Korea especially in the light of high unemployment. The protagonist, Doo-soo, doesn’t want to become a white-collar worker, instead he starts working at Garak Market as a labourer. Doo-soo is also a master of the Korean chess game, Janggi and when he discovers that the local homeless centre is due for demolition, he attempts to save it by challenging the owner to a game of chess.

The short film A Tent (Cheon-mak, dir. Lee hee, 2016) is also being screened.

Date: 17th August
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: KCCUK
Booking: free via Eventbrite

La Vie En Rose (Jangmi bit insaeng, dir. Kim Hong-joon: 1994) and conversation with the director

Set just before the Seoul Olympics of 1988, La Vie En Rose focuses on the disparate lives of a group of people who frequent a comic book rental shop which is run by Madam (Choi Myung-gil). The patrons are almost all men, and those who stay overnight at the shop get the extra benefit of being able to watch pornographic films. One day, Madam’s life is irrevocably altered when one day Dongpal (Choi Jae-sung), a gangster, seeks sanctuary from the police at the comic shop. He becomes obsessed with her and rapes her, altering both of their lives forever. Set at a time of turmoil in South Korean history, La Vie En Rose offers a nuanced exploration of the lives of people on the margins of society and their attempt to escape from the harshness of their lives.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about Korean cinema from the director, Kim Jong-hoon’s whose work has inspired this mini-season of South Korean films.

Date: 24th August
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: Birbeck Institute for the Moving Arts.
Booking: free via Eventbrite

A Talk on the Homage Film: Director Kim Hong-joon

Kim Hong-joon

This mini-season comes to an end with a special event at Birkbeck in which the director Kim Hong-joon will talk about the ‘homage’ film in relation to the idea of the video essay film. Videoessays are a much more entertaining way of learning about film than by reading alone and feature prominently on most film studies curricula.

Excerpts from the following five short homage films will be presented:

  • The Cinematic World of Im Kwon-taek: Four Keywords-Tradition, Love, History and Road (2010)
  • 12 Shorts for Chung Chang-hwa Retrospective (2011)
  • Life Imitates Film: Looking Back on Choi Eun-hee (2013)
  • Kim Ki-deok: A Frontier-man of Chungmu-Ro (2016)
  • Ahn Sung-ki: A Persona of the Korean Cinema (2017)

Date: 25th August
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Arts
Booking: free via Eventbrite.

 

Advertisements

Korean Film Nights: On Foreign Ground

Starting in May and finishing in June, the Korean Cultural Centre is running their second curated mini-season of the year.  This season is focusses on stories of immigration to South Korea: from North Korea, Vietnam, Burma, Vietnam, and Bangladesh along with diasporic Koreans. It has been curated by students from the Film Studies Programming and Curation MA at the National Film and Television School: Maria Bolocan, Mark Donaldson, Andrew Espe, Irene Silvera Frischknecht, Roberto González, Maureen Gueunet, David Perrin and Nicolas Raffin.

 

 

The programme was launched on Thursday, April 27th at 19:00 with the UK premiere of Burmese on The Roof (2016)which follows three “unnamed” Burmese migrants from very different socio-economic backgrounds who live together on a prefabricated hut on the rooftop of Masoek Furniture Industrial Corporation. The film captures their everyday life in fine detail without constructing them in terms of irreducible difference providing an insight into the struggles of living and working away from home.

 

Bandhobi (Shin Dong-il: 2009).

Date: 3rd May 2017

Time: 7:00 pm

Bandhobi centres around the relationship between Min-seo (Baek Jin-hee), 17-year old Korean girl who has a difficult relationship with her mother and her mother’s lover with whom she lives, and Karim (Mahbub Alam), a 29 year old migrant from Bangladesh whose work visa is about to expire.

The film is showing at the Korean Cultural Centre in London, which is just a three minute walk from Charing Cross Station. Tickets can be booked through Eventbrite.

 

Scenery (Zhang Lu: 2013)

Date: 11th May 2017 & 31st May (Deptford Cinema)

Time: 7pm

Venue: Korean Cultural Centre

The third film in this mini-season is Scenery, a documentary which follows fourteen migrant workers as they live and work in a foreign country. Clips of interviews with them are combined with footage of their everyday lives. Zhang Lu is a Korean-Chinese film director, who prior to directing was a Professor of Chinese Literature at Yabain University,  whose films focus on the marginalised and disenfranchised. Scenary is adapted from his 30 minute short documentary, Over There, which was shown at the 14th Jeonju Digital Film Festival as part of a strand on the theme of strangers. Scenery is Zhang Lu’s first full length documentary and has won multiple awards including the Critics Prize at the 15th Black Movie Independent Film Festival in Geneva.

Booking via Eventbrite

The Journals of Musan (Park Jung-bam: 2011)

Date: 1st June 2017

Time: 7pm

Venue: Korean Cultural Centre

In The Journals of Musan, a North Korean defector Seung-chul (Park Jung-bam) who barely makes a living putting up posters of sex shops in Seoul. He lives in a crumbling apartment house on the outskirts of the city with another defector, Kyung-chul (Jin Yong-ik). Unlike his roommate who embraces the South Korean ‘dream’, Seung-chul finds it difficult to adjust to his new life. The Journals of Musan offers an insight into the often marginalised and alienated lives lived by those who cross the border from North to South Korea.

Tickets can be booked via Eventbrite.

Seoul Searching (Benson Lee: 2015)

Date: 8th June 2017

Time: 7pm

Venue: Korean Cultural Centre

Seoul Searching is a South Korean teenage movie. Set in 1986, the film focusses on experiences of ethnic-Asian teenagers at a Summer camp in Seoul which seeks to teach the teenagers about their Korean heritage. Loosely based upon Lee’s own experiences, Seoul Searching has been compared to the US teen pictures of the 1980s such as The Breakfast Club (John Hughes: 1985). In Justin Chang’s review for Variety, he makes a direct comparison by calling the film the “Bibimbap Breakfast Club.” It examines the complexity of cultural identity for second and third generation diasporic Koreans.

Tickets can be booked via Eventbrite.

He’s On Duty (Yook Sang-hyo: 2013)

Date: 15 June

Time: 7pm

Venue: Korean Cultural Centre

He’s On Duty explores the racism and marginalisation that migrants working in South Korea face through the experiences that Bang Tae-sik (Kim Im-kwon), a South Korean national, who pretends that he is from Bhutan in order to find work as he feels that he is discriminated against because he doesn’t look ‘Korean’ enough. The film uses comedy to expose the hardships that migrant workers face when working in a country with a strong sense of national identity which is based upon ethnic difference.

Tickets can be booked from Eventbrite.

The film is also showing at SOAS, on 12th May at 5:15pm. Tickets can be booked via SOAS.

The students at the National Film School have done a really great job curating this season. In post-Brexit Britain, we can all learn something from the experiences of ‘Others’, whether they are fictional or factual. I would highly recommend that people catch at least one if not more of the films in this season.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Missing (Lee Eon-hee, South Korea: 2016) – Screening 10th April 2017

Director Lee’s second feature, Missing/Lost Child follows the desperate search of a single mother, Ji-sun (Eom Ji-won), recently separated from her physician husband, for her young daughter, Da-eun (Seo Ha-nee), who goes missing one day seemingly abducted by her Chinese nanny, Han-mae (Gong Hyo-jin). Following Princess Aurora (Pang Eun-jin: 2005) – which was screened as part of the recent Chills and Thrills mini-season at the KCCUK – and The Truth Beneath (Lee Kyoung-mi: 2016), Missing explores the fragile bond between mother and daughter through a female perspective. Starring Eom Ji-won, who played the mother in Lee Joon-ik’s heart-breaking Hope (2013) and the Principal of the strange girl’s school in The Silenced (Lee Hae-young: 2015), and Gong Hyo-jin – a prolific actresses – whose most recent film is A Single Rider (Lee Joo-young: 2017), Missing boasts a stellar cast and recorded over 1 million admissions on its release in South Korea last year and an award by Korea’s Film Actor’s Association for Gong Hyo-jin.

It is nice to see ongoing recognition of the work of female directors by The London Korean Film Festival and Korean Cultural Centre UK and as such, it is important that we support such work as the spotlight all too often fails to fall on female directors, relegating them a secondary status and as a consequence silencing female voices and perspectives in the process.

The film is the second in the series of Teaser screenings for the upcoming London Korean Film Festival 2017 and is the UK premiere of the film. It will be introduced by Evrim Ersoy, Head Programmer for Fantastic Fest (Austin, Texas). The screening takes place at Picturehouse Central on Monday 10th April 2017, at 6.30pm.

Tickets can be booked direct at the following link: https://www.picturehouses.com/cinema/Picturehouse_Central/film/lkff-preview-screening-missing/tickets/24224

Hope to see some of you there.

 


Chills and Thrills: Korean Film Nights

 

Starting from the 16th February, Korean Film Nights begins the first in three mini-seasons that comprise of a year long screening programme. Each season will showcase six films, many of which are being screened for the first time in the UK.

I am delighted to have had the opportunity to curate the first mini-season: ‘Chills and Thrills: Korean Horror Cinema.’ In 2016, South Korean Horror Cinema went global with the critical and commercial success of The Wailing (Na Hong-jin), Train to Busan ( Yeon Sang-ho) and The Handmaiden (Park Chan-wook). With this mini-season, I wanted to showcase the breadth and depth of South Korean horror. As such, the films chosen act as a primer for both genre enthusiasts and cinephiles. From a desperate mother whose loss of her daughter is unbearable and can only be assuaged by killing those responsible, to a pair of high-end shoes whose surface beauty hides a deadly secret, a suicide pact between young high-school girls which is not quite what it seems, a sadistic serial killer who forces his victim to tell him scary stories, a young boy whose life is blighted by the fact that he can see ghosts , and an adolescent girl whose life is brutally cut short, these films show the rich tapestry of K-horror. Each film will have an introduction. Film critic Anton Bitel will be introducing  Mourning Grave and Horror Stories.

The programme is as follows:

16th February: Princess Aurora (Pang Eun-jin: 2005)

23rd February: The Red Shoes (Kim Yong-gyun: 2005)

2nd March: A Blood Pledge (Lee Jong-yong: 2009)

9th March: Horror Stories (Kim Gok et al: 2012)

16th March: Mourning Grave (Oh In-chun: 2014)

23rd March: Fatal Intuition (Yun Jun-hyeong: 2015)

There will also be additional screenings in the Echoes programme including a screening at Deptford Cinema on Saturday 25th February 2017.

In addition, I will be giving a talk on ‘School Horror’ at New Malden Library on the 21st of February between 6pm and 7pm. Tickets are free and can be booked at the following link: Talk at New Malden Library