Jun 2016 VOL.62


  • Winners at the 40th Seoul Independent Film Festival
  • by YOON Ina / 12.29.2014
  • Fantasy Films Dominate the Awards
    The 40th Seoul Independent Film Festival came to a close on December 5th. The event aims at discovering new independent films that can become alternatives to commercial films. It is a domestic competitive film festival hosted by the Korean Film Council and the Association of Korean Independent Film & Video. The festival also serves as an event to sum up the achievements of Korean independent filmmakers for the year and provides a space for networking among independent filmmakers from around the country. Independent films vary in genres such as dramas, experimental films, documentaries and animations. An audience commenting system enables audience to directly express their opinions to the Judging Committee, while the event as a whole debate about the development and increase of independent film production and distribution.

    This year’s winners were announced at the closing ceremony on December 5th. The Grand Prize went to the documentary The Island of Shadows directed by KIM Jung-keun. The Island of Shadows records 30 year long struggle of the workers at Hanjin Heavy Industries. In 2011, the “bus of hope” visited Yeongdo, Busan and gave support to the labor union of Hanjin Heavy Industries who were protesting against the company’s layoff of 400 blue-collar workers at the Yeongdo Shipyard. The bus project raised funds which were used to make the documentary to record their struggle. The Island of Shadows asks laborers what labor means to them and reminds people of the value of labor. “The Island of Shadows explores how capital and political power attempt to emasculate the labor union and frustrated ordinary laborers who just wanted to live simply with small dreams,” the judges commented. “The Island of Shadows is a well structured standout film that deals with the case from a fair viewpoint.”

    A Matter of Interpretation
    directed by LEE Kwang-guk nabbed The Best Film Prize which differentiated itself from other works through its unique plot structure that crosses the border between the real world and the dream world. Its motif is the fantasy novel “Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There”. A Matter of Interpretation begins when an unknown actor Yeon-shin (SHIN Dong-mi) departs a theater after finding that nobody came to see her play bumps into a cop (YU Jun-sang) and tells him about a dream she had the night before. The blurred line between reality and dreams confuse the viewers in differentiating between the two. Director Lee Kwang-guk has worked for director HONG Sangsoo before. In this film, many actors who had previously starred in HONG’s films took part. The judges complimented director LEE on his excellent skills in expressing mysterious spaces mixed with dreams and realities. This film picked up the Movie Collage Prize at the 19th Busan International Film Festival and will hit domestic theaters on February 12th, next year.

    The Excellent Work Prize was presented to The World of If, by LIM Dae-hyeong. The film took its name after Man-il, the name of the lead character. In Korean, ‘Man-il’ can mean ‘What if’. Thus the film depicts a subjunctive world. Longtime couple Man-il and Ju-hee climb a hill to watch the sunset. There, what Man-il imagines comes true. But The World of If does not tell a simple story where imaginations become realities. Ju-hee is concerned about landing a job and her future, whereas Man-il is overly romantic and naïve and only worries about losing his love. “A glance at the film may make you think that the film is a simple romance story between a man and a woman,” the judges commented on the film. “But it delivers a message about harsh realities through the lead characters.” This film took home the Judges’ Choice Prize at the 13th Mise-en-scene Short Film Festival.

    The Independent Film Star Prize was shared by BYUEN Yo-han of Socialphobia and LEE Sang-hee of Children. Socialphobia became a double crown winner as it also won the Audiences’ Choice Prize. Socialphobia is about two men who happen to take part in an internet “Hyeonpi” broadcasting show. Hyeonpi is a newly coined word that combines “realities” and “killing players on line.” Via this kind of show, online fights become real-life fights, giving rise to injuries or even murders. BYUEN Yo-han plays Ji-woong who becomes involved in a murder case while preparing for an exam to become a police officer. Children is a short by director PARK Geun-buem. LEE Sang-hee plays So-yeong who goes back to a town where she once lived to look for her younger brother. The film paints her awkward good-byes with old friends in a town ruined by a redevelopment project.
    The Passionate Staff Member Prize was handed out to KIM Hyeon-ah, the production designer of Hosanna. Hosanna portrays a boy who heals the sick or injured, and sometimes, revives those who died. The film asks about the meaning of life through the pain and anguish the boy continues to live in after reviving a person. Hosanna won the Judges’ Choice Prizes at the 15th Jeonju International Film Festival and the 13th Mise-en-scene Short Film Festival.
    The New Choice Prize went to The Close Family directed by YOON Da-hee, the New Perspective Prize to How to Become a Chair directed by SON Kyung-hwa and the Strong Will Prize to People Passing by directed by KIM Kyung-man. A Dangerous Woman, a LEE Ok-seop film, shared the Audiences’ Choice Prize with Socialphobia. The Judges’ Special Mention Prize was presented to A Midsummer’s Fantasia directed by JANG Kun-jae and Factory Complex directed by IM Heung-soon.
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