Jun 2016 VOL.62


  • 14th Jeonju Intl. Film Festival Reveals Packed Lineup
  • by Pierce Conran / 03.29.2013
  • Korean Lineup to Focus on Fresh Faces
    Earlier this week, the organizers of the Jeonju International Film Festival (JIFF) held a press conference during which they revealed the lineup and format of their 14th edition, which will take place from April 25th to May 3rd. With a new director and programming team, JIFF is getting ready to don a fresh look for 2013. 178 films from 46 countries, including 45 world premieres, will screen during the festival, which is second only to Busan in terms of scale on the Korean peninsula.

    Opening the festivities will the Laurent CANET film Foxfire, the follow-up to his Palme d’Or winning 2008 feature The Class. In addition to this, CANET will attend the festival as a jury member for the Korean Film Competition section. The closing film will be Wadjda, the debut of Haifa AL MANSOUR, Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker.
    JIFF features an illustrious International Competition that will feature 10 films from around the world. This year’s jury will be led by Kazakh director Darezhan OMIRBAEV (Killer) and will also feature Korea’s top action director RYOO Seung-wan (The Berlin File) and the popular actor JUNG Woo-sung (The Good, the Bad, and the Weird). However, since most of this lineup premiered elsewhere, people may well look to the Korean Film Competition for fresher discoveries.
    Over the years, JIFF’s Korean Film Competition has been responsible for introducing a series of arthouse hits to the world that have performed strongly at international festivals. The most recent edition of Jeonju was the launching ground for both JANG Kun-jae’s Sleepless Night and LEESONG Hee-il’s White Night, both of which are in the midst of lengthy festival runs.
    Out of 102 submissions, 10 debut or sophomore features were selected for this year’s lineup. As to be expected a number of these works are from unknown filmmakers but a handful have made an impact with previous works. Among them is LEE Hyun-jung, whose debut Virgin Forest, an experimental documentary that she began following her mother’s passing, premiered at last year’s final Cinema Digital Seoul Film Festival (CinDi) before being invited to other events such as the Torino International Film Festival and the Kosmorama Trondheim International Film Festival. Her new feature Echo of Dragon, her first fiction film, is an innovative character study shot in a stream-of-consciousness style.

    Five other fiction films will compete in the section. The coming of age film Groggy Summer features a high school student who dreams of becoming a poet. YUN Su-ik’s film is shot in a gritty handheld style. JUNG Young-heon, who graduated from the Korean Academy of Film Arts in 2010, has steadily been making shorts since the mid-1990s. This year he signs his feature debut with Lebanon Emotion, a subtle drama that captures the fading love of a young couple. December, from director PARK Jeong-hoon, features the use of fresh camerawork and an original structure to put across its story of youths crisscrossing with one another and the burgeoning feelings that they experience. Dear Dolphin tells the story of a man who cannot get past the memory of his departed lover. Director KANG Ji-na uses tension to document his slow healing process. Finally, the omnibus feature Dancing Woman, from directors PARK Sun-il, PARK Jun-hee, RYU Jae-mi, JO Chi-young and CHOO Kyeong-yeob is an amalgamation of different styles, ranging from experimental and fake documentary to fiction, that demonstrates a choreographer, dancer, painter and film director’s thoughts on contemporary dance.

    Moving away from the fiction side of things, the lineup features the fake documentary Cheer Up Mr. LEE with takes a look at a young man who desperately hopes to become a filmmaker. Director LEE Byeong-hun imbues the feature with his natural liveliness. 51+, from director JUNG Yong-taek, examines the music scene in popular student district Hongdae. Chiefly, it takes aim at the irony that in a neighborhood that was responsible for much of Korea’s early indie music, few artists can make a living there anymore. Meanwhile, PARK Moon-chil’s My Place takes aim at the prevalent patriarchal family structures of Korea by focusing on a family that rejects this notion in search of their own individuality. Lastly, Grandma-Cement Garden chronicles the final days of a community. Director KIM Ji-gon aims his lens at the inhabitants of a mountain village near Busan just ahead of its planned destruction.

    Another section highlighting ten new Korean films will be Korea Cinemascape, which features a mix of commercial and independent, fiction and documentary, narrative and experimental works. Among some of the well known films that will already have screened ahead of the festival are KANG Woo-suk’s mixed martial arts (MMA) action thriller Fist of Legend, which is due to open locally on April 10th. PARK Hoon-jung’s current gangster hit New World, starring HWANG Jung-min, as well as LEE Jung-jae and CHOI Min-shik, recently crossed the four million admissions mark at the Korean box office. Another current film that will be featured is the dramatic comedy My Paparotti, starring HAN Suk-kyu and LEE Je-hoon. KANG Yi-kwan’s festival darling Juvenile Offender, which premiered at Toronto before picking up awards in Tokyo and Cinemanila, will also screen in the section. Additionally, the mid-length feature Burn, Release, Explode, the Invincible, a low-budget effort sporting KIM Soo-hyun’s distinct directorial style, is also part of the lineup.

    Five world premieres will also take part in this section. Many documentaries will be getting their start including a sequel of sorts to Talking Architect, JEONG Jae-eun’s highly-regarded film, titled Talking Architecture: City Hall. PARK Ki-yong, the former director of Cinema Digital Seoul who directed Hotel Cactus (1997) and Camel(s) (2001), returns with the documentary Garibong, which explores the lives of migrants in Korea. To Be Reborn is a self-documentary from the director HWANG Qu-dok. Project Cheonan Ship, produced by CHUNG Ji-young and directed by BAEK Seung-woo, tells of a ship that was attacked by North Korea. Finally, the fiction film Totally Messed Family by NO Zin-soo will also screen.

    JIFF is also well known for the shorts it commissions. This year’s Jeonju Digital Project, which will feature three shorts of approximately 30 minutes, will be directed by KOBAYASHI Masahiro, Edwin and the Chinese-Korean ZHANG Lu (Dooman River). The 2013 Short! Short! Short! project will consist of shorts based on the works of Korean novelist KIM Young-ha, also one of the jury members for this year’s Korean Film Competition. Indie scene trailblazer LEE Sang-woo (Barbie) is taking charge of one of the shorts while LEE Jin-woo and brothers PARK Jin-sung and Jin-seok will handle the other two.
    With all this and plenty more to discover across JIFF’s six main sections and eleven sub-sections, Jeonju will once again be one of the places to be this spring for cinephiles and film professionals looking for the best in international art cinema.
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