Seen in Jeonju

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35th Seoul Independent Film Festival

8th December 2009

siffClasses are finished and final exams are nearly over!  So what to do?  Well, if you have the chance to be in Seoul at the end of this week, you may want to check out the 35th Seoul Independent Film Festival–or SIFF for short.  There is an amazing collection of movies being screened.  The majority of these are Korean made feature length films, shorts and documentaries.  Opening the festival will be One Night Stand, an omnibus film by directors Jang Hoon (Rough Cut), Min Yong-geun (award-winning short film director), and Lee Yu-rim. 

There will also be a selection of invited independent films from the Philippines subtitled in Korean and the entire filmography of director Zhang Lu from his 2001 short film Eleven to his 2008 film Iri and a 2009 documentary of Lu’s life and works called Of Hospitality by director Woo Hye-kyeong.

One word of caution. If you cannot understand Korean, than check the screening guide carefully.  While many of the films contain English subtitles, there are some notable exceptions like the opening feature and the Philippine movies.  Screenings will be held at Spongehouse and Indiespace from December 10-18.

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Yoo Hyeon-mok Box Set

6th December 2009

yoo hyeon-mok

Here is some good news!  Yoo Hyeon-mok is famous for several films including The Aimless Bullet, School Excursion and Robot Taekwon V.  These, and several other of his films have already received the DVD treatment.  Now some of his lesser known films will be available on DVD with English subtitles.   This set of four dvds will include Forever With You (1958), The Guest who Came on the Last Train, The Daughters of Kim’s Pharmacy (1963) and Rainy Season (1979)

Unfamilar with the stories?  Forever With You looks at the lives of three young men who are petty criminals.  One day they try a bigger heist than just picking pockets and attempt to rob a US Army warehouse.  They are interrupted and one of them is captured.  Escaping briefly to meet his girlfriend who now works in a bar to make ends meet, he is recaptured and sentenced to ten years in prison.  When his sentence is up, he and his old friends meet again and sparks fly.

The Guest Who Came on the Last Car is the melodramatic tale of Bo-yeong who cuts contact with her family after her best friend marries her father.  Her friend inherits everything after her father dies while Bo-yeong lives with a man dying of lung cancer and struggles to help him.

The Daughters of Kim’s Pharmacy occassionally pops up at local film festivals.  Kim’s four daughters have very different personalities –often with many faults– but they share the same fate… unhappy marriages.

The Rainy Season is the story of one family divided by the Korean War.  Forced to live under one roof, Dong-man’s maternal grandmother despises his paternal grandmother because her family were all killed while fighting for South Korea while Dong-man’s paternal uncle supports the North Korean cause. 

This excellent collection of films will be available to purchase from December 10, 2009.  I have already pre-ordered!

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30th Blue Dragon Awards

2nd December 2009

blue dragonTonight at 8 pm were the Blue Dragon Awards held.  Unliked the recent Grand Bell Awards, this event was not plagued by scandals and Jang Na-ra’s father.  The results are below–winners are in caps

Best Short Film:   –GOOKYEONG


Best New Director: –KANG HYEONG-CHEOL (Scandal Makers) –Park Geon-yeong (Bronze Medalist) –Yang Ik-joon –LeeYong-ju (Possessed) –Jeong Ki-hoon (Goodbye Mother) 

Best Scenario: –POSSESSED

Best Art Direction: –PRIVATE EYE

Best Music:  –THIRST

Best Special Effects: –HAEUNDAE

Best Lighting:  –MOTHER

Best Cinematography:    –TAKE OFF

Best New Actress: (tie) –Kang Ye-won (Haeundae) –KIM GGOT-BI (Breathless) –PARK BO-YEONG (Scandal Makers) –Seon Woo-seon (Running Turtle) –Oh Yeon-seo (Whispering Corridors 5: Blood Pledge)

Best New Actor: –Kim Moo-yeol (Scam) –Kim Ji-seok (Take Off) –Song Chang-ui (Boys Don’t Cry) –YANG IK-JOON (Breathless) –Choi Jae-woong (Sword With No Name)

Best Supporting Actress: –Kim Bo-yeon (Possessed) –Kim Yeong-ae (Goodbye Mother) –KIM HAE-SOOK (Thrist) –Jang Yeong-nam (My Girlfriend is an Agent) –Choo Cha-hyeon (Portrait of Beauty)

Best Supporting Actor: –Kim In-gwon (Haeundae) –Seong Dong-il (Take Off) –Shin Ha-gyun (Thirst) –Lee Min-gi (Haeundae) –JIN GU (Mother) 

Best Actress: –Kim Ok-bin (Thirst) –Kim Ha-neul (My Girlfriend is an Agent) –Kim Hye-ja (Mother) –Choi Kang-hee (Goodbye Mother) –HA JI-WON (Closer to Heaven)

Best Actor: –KIM MYEONG-MIN (Closer to Heaven) –Kim Yoon-seok (Running Turtle) –Song Kang-ho (Thirst) –Jang Dong-geon (Good Morning President) –Ha Jeong-woo (Take Off)

Best Director: –KIM YONG-HWA (Take Off) –Park Chan-wook (Thirst)–Bong Joon-ho (Mother) –Yoon Je-gyun (Haeundae) –Jang Jin (Good Morning President)

Best Film:  –Take Off–Haeundae–Good Morning President–MOTHER–Thirst

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Im Kwon-Taek’s 101st Film

18th November 2009

im's new movieDirector Im Kwon-taek announced today that he will begin shooting his 101st movie which will be screened at the Jeonju International Film Festival next year. Im, now 75, was a prolific director during the 1960s and 70s but is best know for his works from more recent decades including Seopyeongje (1993), the Son of the General trilogy (1990-92) and, most recently, Beyond the Years (2006).  His current project Dalbit Gileo Olrigi, does not yet have an English title.  It will be the first film Im has shot in a digital format. Cast for the film are Park Joong-hoon, a staple among Korean actors since the 1980s who most recently appeared in the summer blockbuster Haeundae, and actress Kang Su-yeon. Kang and Im have previously worked together on some of the directors best films such as Come Come Come Upwards (1989) and The Surrogate Womb (1986). She and Park had co-starred together in the 1987 film The Springtime of Mimi and Cheol-soo directed by Lee Gyu-hyeong.  Shooting of this film will begin shortly in Jeonju.

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Pirates convicted

14th November 2009

I just read the following article on the KOFIC homepage.  I have no sympathy for illegal downloaders and even less for the people who make these films available to download.  Here is the article in full:

The internet pirates convicted of illegally downloading Korean mega-pirates jailedblockbuster hit Haeundae have just been convicted in court.  All three people involved have been sentenced to more than 18 months in jail.  The tsunami like leak was reported back in September when the film was downloaded 100,000 times over one weekend.  At the time CJ’s, the film’s distributor swiftly launched an aggressive probe into the downloading.

Haeundae was the first major film to be illegally downloaded while still in its theatrical run since land-mark laws were put in place.  In a country where the downloading of films was common place before the laws’ enactments, this conviction is a sign of a growing willingness to tackle the problem head-on.  The court thus stated that the sentences were intended “to strike alarm against the practice of copyright infringement through illegal copying”.

written by David Oxenbridge (KOFIC) 

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Manchu Remake in the Works

8th November 2009

manchu remake

Most fans of Korean cinema proabably are already aware the Kim Ki-yeong’s classic masterpiece, The Housemaid, is currently being remade starring actress Jeon Do-yeon (Secret Sunshine).  But while all eyes are on that film, which has been given a tentative release date of May 2010 even though it has not started schooting yet, another remake nearly slipped by unnoticed.

Manchu was originally made in 1966 by one of the most inspired directors of his times, Lee Man-hee (Evil Stairs, Girl Like the Sun).  It was the story of a woman in prison for murder but whom as earned a special leave for good behavior.  She is allowed to visit the tomb of her mother.  On the train to the hillside where her mother is buried, she meets a man and the two fall in love. They make a plan to meet before she is returned to prison, but he doesn’t show up.  Instead she sees him outside the jail when she is headed back inside.  The movie starred top-actors Shin Seong-il (Barefoot Youth) and Moon Jeong-sook (Aimlss Bullet).  However, it is now impossible to see this film as it has been lost.  (Although with old, previously thought lost films like Hong Gil-Dong turning up, it may simply be misplaced for now). 

In 1981, director Kim Soo-yong took the story of Manchu and remade it starring actress Kim Hye-ja (Mother) and Jeong Dong-hwan (Seven Days). The story is basically the same, but since it was released on VHS at one point, there are many more details available as to the story.  The prisoner is enroute to her mother’s tomb where she meets petty criminal Min-gi and the two fall in love. Min-gi tries to convince her to run away with him, but she refuses. Instead they promise to meet again in two years when her sentence has been served in full.  On the day she is released, she goes to the appointed spot to meet Min-gi…and she waits…and waits…and waits…  She does not realize that he has been arrested and is now sitting in a cell…

This latest version being released sometime in 2010 will be directed by Kim Tae-yong (Memento Mori, Family Ties) and there are already some new twists to the story.  The lead in the story will be played by Chinese actress Wei Tang (Lust, Caution) and she will be sharing the screen with Hyeon Bin (Daddy-Long-Legs).

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46th Grand Bell Film Awards

7th November 2009

46th grand bell festival

The 46th Grand Bell Film Awards were held Friday evening.  The categories and candidates are listed below.  The winners are written in bold letters.

Best New ActressKim Ggot-bi (Breathless), Park Bo-yeong (Scandal Makers), Lee Yeong-eun (Summer, Whisper), Jyu Ni (Sky and Sea), Seon Woo-seon (Running Turtle)

Best New Actor: Kang Ji-hwan (My Girlfriend is an Agent), Cha Seung-woo (GoGo 70s), Kim Nam-gil (Modern Boy), So Ji-seob (Rough Cut), Song Cheong-ui (Boys Don’t Cry)

Best New Director: Park Geon-yong (Bronze Medalist), Yang Ik-joon (Breathless), Lee Ho-jae (Scam), Kim Eun-joo (Summer, Whisper), Jang Hoon (Rough Cut) 

Best Costumes: Frozen Flower, Modern Boy, The Good, The Bad and The Weird, Portrait of Beauty, Sunny

Best Art Direction: Antique, Portrait of Beauty, Frozen Flower, The Good, The Bad and The Weird, Modern Boy

Best Original MusicFrozen Flower,  Mother, Scandal Makers, GoGo 70s, Sky and Sea

Best Sound Effects: Haeundae, The Good the Bad and The Weird, Chaw, GoGo 70s, Divine Weapon

Best Special Effects: Take Off, The Good the Bad and the Weird, Modern Boy, Divine Weapon

Best Editing: GoGo 70s, The Good the Bad and the Weird, Take Off, Scandal Makers, Divine Weapon

Best Lighting: Portrait of Beauty, Scandal Makers, Frozen Flower, Divine Weapon, Thirst

Best Cinematography: Take Off, The Good the Bad and the Weird, Mother, Haeundae, Portrait of Beauty

Best Scenario: Goodbye Mother, Castaways on the Moon, Rough Cut, Handphone, Possessed

Best Supporting Actress: Kim Bo-yeon (Possessed), Kim Hae-sook (Thirst), Kim Yeong-ae (Goodbye Mother), Ju Cha-hyeon (Portrait of Beauty), Kim Neung-mi (Closer to Heaven), Uhm Jeong-hwa (Haeundae)

Best Supporting Actor: Kim In-gwon (Haeundae), Jin Gu (Mother), Jeong Kyeong-ho (Sunny), Jang Geun-seok (Case of Itaewon Homicide), Kim Nam-gil (Modern Boy)

Best Actress: Kim Mi-seon (Portrait of Beauty), Su Ae (Sunny), Kim Hae-ja (Mother), Choi Kang-hee (Goodbye Mother), Jang Na-ra (Sky and Sea)

Best Actor: Kim Myeong-min (Closer to Heaven), Ha Jeong-woo (Take Off), Jeong Jae-yeong (Divine Weapon), Seol Kyeong-gu (Haeundae), Kim Yoon-seok (Running Turtle)

Best Director: Kim Yong-hwa (Take Off), Yoon Je-gyun (Haeundae), Jeon Yoon-soo (Portrait of Beauty), Jeong Gi-hoon (Goodbye Mother), Bong Joon-ho (Mother)

Best Production:  Mother, Divine Weapon, Haeundae, Take Off, Sky and Sea

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Korea’s First 3D Horror Project in 2010–Really?

12th October 2009

apeOriginally posted August 7, 2009–On July 30, the below article appeared on the KOFIC website and was picked up by other websites that provide information about Korean films. Written by a KOFIC staff member, it reads:      Korea’s First 3D Horror Project Soul Mate Announced:  Soul Mate, to be directed by KIM Ji-hwan resulted from KOFIC’s Filmmaker’s Development Lab (FDL) and took part in PIFAN’s Network of Asian Fantastic Film’s (NAFF).  The production of such films underscores the growing importance of PIFAN not just as an exhibitor of genre films but as a catalyst of film production.  The FDL on the other hand, is a programme that takes a number of film projects from up and coming Korean film makers (in and out of the country) and matches them with mentors from the film industry.  This year there were 5 projects including Soul Mate.  The $2 million dollar film is to be created by Korean visual effects company ‘Macrograph’ and production company ‘Entourage’.   Macrograph for its part is no stranger to high profile movies after working on Korean films The Forbidden Kingdom, The Restless, and thriller Handphone.  The film has already secured development funds and the film’s producers are in talks with local and one Singaporean company to secure coproduction partners. Rather than the usual fare of (pretty young) girls becoming murder fodder to a host of grizzly attackers, Soul Mate focuses on a group of college boys.  The producers are aiming to assemble a “dream team of good-looking boys” who will one by one, come to their ends at the hand of a mysterious stalker.  This film is expected to be released in the summer of 2010. 

As much as I dislike the stinker of a movie pictured above right, what I dislike even more is forgetting the past and the efforts of filmmakers from previous decades. This ad pictures the infamous film know in English-speaking countries as APE. It was co-directed by Choi Yeong-cheol and Paul Leder and screened in theaters as Korea’s first 3D horror movie in July 1976.  Choi had a career as a director that ran from 1963 to 1991. (His last film, Pure White Cult, was about the cult briefly mentioned in the giant pig film Chaw this summer). As can be seen on the poster–in letters almost as large as the title–is that it was a horror film made in 3D. Actors Lee Nak-hoon and Woo Yeon-jeong are listed first and second in the credits in this ad and the film was produced by Hong Yeong-shil for Gukje Productions.

Although there are many non-Korean actors, APE is still a Korean film. While an argument may be made that it is not a horror film, that would go against the classification on the Korean Film Database and of KOFIC themselves. Incidently, the first 3D Korean film that I am aware of is from 1971, an action film entitled The Black Sun of Jijiharu.

Just because a film is from another era or was not successful, does not mean it should be overlooked. And for an organization like KOFIC, which aims to promote Korean movies, to spread incorrect information is unforgivable. Ten minutes of research would have turned up the unfortunate APE as the true first Korean 3D horror project.

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