Jun 2016 VOL.62


  • Finding New Diversity Films within 2015 Korean Cinema!
  • by KIM Su-yeon / 02.23.2015
  • Which Korean films will attract film critics and film festivals in 2015? In our search for new Korean films that move away from the conventions of commercial cinema to profess a unique color of their own, we’re introducing a diverse spectrum of films currently in production, post-production or announced to be released for 2015.
    New titles from female directors with international festival experiences
    The first film unveiled is an alumnus of Cannes Film Festival Cinéfondation’s ‘The Résidence du Festival’ program who was chosen for her feature project, The Wonder Years (2007). KIM Hee-jung is back with her new film, Snow Paths. Produced through the ‘Jeonju Cinema Project 2015’, this film will have its world premiere at the 16th Jeonju International Film Festival (JIFF), a 10-day event scheduled from April 30th to May 9th.
    This is her third feature following her debut film The Wonder Years then Grape Candy (2012). Snow Paths is a strained odd tale about an alcoholic man who seeks the mountains for rehab, and meets a nun in her twenties as well as a hunter who continues to beg the man to kill him.
    KIM Tae-hun known for his striking performances in An Ethics Lesson (2012), Gyeong-ju and Roaring Currents is cast as the alcoholic man Jeong-wu, while the nun Maria is played by newcomer PARK So-dam. In addition, CHOI Moo-sung who gave a memorable performance in Intruders (2012) became the fifty-some hunter, Peter, who exerts a threatening presence to Jeong-wu and Maria. Snow Paths is currently in post-production.
    Alive, last year’s ‘Jeonju Digital Project’ (previous name for Jeonju Cinema Project) film directed by PARK Jung-bum went off with a good start in the film festival scene, winning the Young Critics Award at the 67th Locarno Film Festival followed by a double crown for the Silver Astor for Best Actor Award and Obra Cine Award for Best First or Second Feature at the Mar del Plata International Film Festival, a special mention at the Singapore International Film Festival along with numerous other international film festival invites. JIFF’s choice for this year, KIM Hee-jung’s Snow Paths is another title the festival hopes will create considerable buzz as well.
    Another highly anticipated project is SHIN Su-won’s Madonna, which began its production last August, and is now in post-production. Returning to the director’s chair after a two-year break since Pluto, SHIN Su-won has been recognized for her outstanding talent as a director through winning awards including the Best Asian-Middle Eastern Film Award in 2010 for Passerby #3 at the 23rd Tokyo International Film Festival, the Canal+ Prize for Best Short Film for Circle Line as part of the four-film omnibus Modern Family in 2012 at the 65th Cannes Film Festival, and a special mention from the Generation 14plus Section for Pluto at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival along with a number of invites to film festivals around the world.
    Her latest work Madonna unveils a shocking truth as a nurse’s aide, Hae-rim, tries to obtain an organ donation consent form. She asks the family of a patient involved in a strange accident for the consent of a heart donation. The organ donor is a young woman named Mina who used to go by the nickname, ‘Madonna’. Unable to turn down the desperate request from the son of the patient in need of a new heart, Hae-rim investigates the economically-struggling young Mina’s past to come face to face with horrific secrets.
    The main protagonist Hae-rim who guides us through the story is played by SEO Yeong-hee, who grabbed eight awards for Best Actress at various domestic and international film festivals for her performance in the 2011 film, Bedevilled, while newcomer KWON So-hyeon is cast as the comatose mysterious young woman ‘Madonna.’
    New projects from Korean auteurs and rising filmmakers
    A favorite of film critics and film festivals, acclaimed Korean master of cinema, is opening 2015 with a new title to add to his filmography. His 17th film has been in production since mid-January. He is taking the usual route of starting a production with just the basic premise, and completing the daily script on set with only the main cast and location revealed. The plot and details about the characters have not been released.
    HONG Sang-soo’s new film, which had its first film shoot on January 21st, will wrap up after three weeks of shooting and is looking at a theatrical release around the second half of this year. Actor YU Jun-sang who often starred in HONG’s works such as Nobody’s Daughter Haewon (2012), In Another Country (2011), The Day He Arrives (2011) and Hahaha (2010), will perform with JUNG Jae-young, the lead man in Our Sunhi (2012) in this new feature.

    Interestingly, two new actresses who never appeared in any of HONG’s films have been cast in his latest work. The first being KIM Min-hee who proved herself as a serious actress through films such as Helpless (2011), Very Ordinary Couple (2012) and No Tears for the Dead, and KO Asung who attracted international attention with her first Hollywood film directed by BONG Joon-ho, Snowpiercer (2013).

    Meanwhile, KWON Oh-kwang’s directorial debut feature Fish Man (working title) is another title to take note of. Invited to the Hanoi International Film Festival with his short, Green Slime (2012), and the Dubai International Film Festival with another short, Suffocation (2012), newcomer KWON Oh-kwang won the ‘Palm d’Or’ in the 2013 Short Films Competition at the 66th Cannes Film Festival for the self-written script, Safe. His exclusive and brilliant realm of imagination embedded in each short film he directed has earned him a reputation as the ‘next BONG Joon-ho.’ KWON’s Fish Man is an imaginatively original tale, both funny and sad, about a man who turns into a mutant when a new drug development experiment goes wrong. LEE Kwang-soo who has earned recognition as a hot scene stealer through works such as Confession and TV drama It’s Okay, That’s Love stars as the film’s protagonist Ku, who is transformed into a mutant. Alongside LEE Kwang-soo, LEE Chun-hee who recently performed in How To Steal A Dog stars as the TV reporter Sang-won who shoots a documentary on Ku. Also, PARK Bo-young, the driving force behind box office hits such as Scandal Makers (2008) and A Werewolf Boy (2012) plays Ku’s girlfriend, Joo-jin.

    KWON Oh-kwang’s Fish Man is due for attention especially due to the name value of the film’s executive producer, LEE Chang-dong. With his track record as the director of Secret Sunshine (2007) and Poetry (2010), and executive producer of Never Forever (2007), A Brand New Life (2009) and A Girl at My Door, which all went to major international film festivals including Cannes, LEE Chang-dong’s name attached as the producer will naturally raise anticipation towards Fish Man.
    Korean documentaries to attract overseas attention

    There is also a rich lineup of upcoming documentaries worth taking notice of. Film critic and documentary filmmaker, KIM Jeong’s latest work, Heart of Snow, Heart of Blood is one to mention. KIM is the director of Koryu; Southern Women South Korea showcased at the 2001 Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, and this latest work of hers deals with 150 years of Soviet Korean ‘Goryeoin’ history which includes the collective trauma of forced migration across Asia. This film highlights the individual and group tragedy and struggle against migrant labor.
    Fine art artist and documentary filmmaker IM Heung-soon’s Factory Complex is another title to watch out for. Invited this year to one of the world’s top ten Biennales, Sharjah Biennale, this documentary professes it is dedicated to ‘all those who work.’ As a veteran visual artist whose works involve photos, videos, to installations, this documentary is raising attention as the latest work from the director.
    The last film to introduce is HWANG Yun’s An Omnivorous Family’s Dilemma showcased at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival’s Culinary Cinema section. This film journals the dietary dilemma of the director and her family when she decides to rid of her meat eating habits after the foot-and-mouth disease broke out in 2011. From Farewell (2001), which was invited to numerous international film festivals including the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, and the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, to Silent Forest (2004) and One Day On the Road (2006), HWANG Yun raised considerable attention with her ecological ‘wildlife trilogy’ and is one director to be reckoned with, which also goes for this latest work of hers.
  • Comment