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The 43rd Seoul Independent Film Festival Comes to a Close

Dec 22, 2017
  • Writerby Christopher Weatherspoon
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KIM Joong-Hyeon's FEBRUARY Wins Top Honor

The 43rd Seoul Independent Film Festival (SIFF) came to a close after 9 days of screening one of Korea's largest offerings of independent cinema. The closing ceremony, which was hosted by actors KIM Hye-na and NAM Yeon-woo, was held on December 8 at the CGV Art House theater in Seoul's Apgujeong neighborhood where officials were on hand to announce the festival's category winners. 
The SIFF's Grand Prize, which included a purse of KRW 20 Million (USD 20,000), was awarded to director KIM Joong-hyeon's February (2017). The second feature from KIM following his 2012 festival darling film Choked, February tells the story of Min-gyeong (JO Minkyoung) a woman living a difficult life who frequently and continuously makes bad decisions. The film won the NETPAC Award and Vision Director's Award at the 22nd Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) which took place in October. Members of the SIFF jury commented on how the film showed a mature attitude that respected the majesty of a person experiencing difficulties in life.

SHIN Dong-seok's Last Child (2017) won SIFF's Best Feature Film award. Shin's heart-wrenching drama was a recipient of the 2017 Asian Cinema Fund post-production grant as well as the winner of the FIPRESCI Award at this year's BIFF. The festival's award for best short film was given to LEE Soo-ah's Weight of the Hand. The Judges Awards went to LEE Kang-hyun's drama Possible Faces (2017) and to OH Seo-ro's 3-minute animated film (OO) (2017). 
In addition, the Independent Star Award, which helps to discover new independent film actors, was given to JEON Yeo-bin of After My Death (2017) and KIM Hye-jin of Us at High Noon (2017). This prize money for this year's Independent Star Awards was sponsored by actress Lee Young-ae. Meanwhile the Rising Staff Award went to Shin Seong-ah, who did the sound design for director JANG Eun-joo's experimental short Night of Hunt (translated title) (2017).

Winners in the festival's New Selection competition include GWON Gyung-won's Kang Gi-hoon documentary Courtesy to the Nation (2017) and KIM Bo-ram's feminist, myth shattering work For Vagina’s Sake (2017). In addition, CHAE Eui-seok's Bomdong (2017) received a special mention. 

The Association of Korean Independent Film and Video Honor Award was given to both PARK Bae-il's documentary Soseongri (2017) and LEE Kang-hyun's Possible Faces, the second award of the night for the latter film. Finally, the festival's Audience Awards, which were chosen by audience votes over the course of the festival, were given to KIM Hyun-jung's Home Without Me (2017) for best short and JEON Go-woon's Microhabitat (2017) for best feature. 

This year's festival, which offered an expanded lineup 139 films, included midnight screenings, guest visits, events with international film guests and a forum which held discussions on independent film issues. According to the festival, compared to last year, SIFF saw a significant increase in festival attendees and ticket sales.
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