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Australian Film Festival opens with a bang

May 02,2007
The Australian Film Festival stops in Korea on its world tour, introducing a selection of Australian cinema never before screened on the peninsula. The festival moves to Busan from Friday to May 11. Provided by the embassy
Korea and Australia have similar issues when it comes to filmmaking, according to Australian Ambassador Peter Rowe.
Both countries have burgeoning film industries, but they also both suffer from the same condition when it comes to breaking the vice-grip of Hollywood on the world of entertainment.
In an attempt to remedy this situation, lacking the momentum of hallyu (the Korean Wave), the Australian Embassy has brought the Australian Film Festival to Korea for the fourth time.
The event, which travels to Australian embassies across the globe, was at Cine Cube in Seoul until early this week, and will move on to Busan from Friday to May 11.
It is the first time since 2004 that the festival has taken place in Korea.
The festival opened with a small gala and a screening of the film “Swimming Upstream.”
In true Australian style, high formality was never the goal, but many local dignitaries and celebrities came out to add some glitz to the affair, which was held in the lobby of the Cine Cube Gwanghwamun theater.
The guests included a range of dignitaries from the Australian and other foreign embassies around Seoul, actress and one-time Environment Minister Sohn Sook, Chairman of the Standing Committee for Culture and Tourism Cho Bae-sook and Ahn Cheong-sook, president of the Korean Film Council.
Also on hand was Sam Hammington, a fluent-in-Korean Australian many hail as the first foreign comedian in Korea, who can be seen on the show “Gag Concert.”
Geoff Tooth, deputy head of the Australian Embassy, said, “We want to show the depth of the industry in Australia” through the screened films.
Among the 10 films are the festival opener, “Swimming Upstream,” about an Olympic swimmer’s struggle to succeed in spite of his problematic family; “Dirty Deeds,” a gangster movie featuring Sam Neil, Toni Collette and John Goodman; and “Ned Kelly,” about the infamous Aussie thug, starring heartthrobs Heath Ledger and Orlando Bloom, along with Academy Award-winner Geoffrey Rush.
Rounding out the list are “Gettin’ Square,” “Japanese Story,” “Peaches,” “The Rage in the Placid Lake,” “Somersault,” “Thunderstruck” and “Three Dollars.”
Also featured in the short-film section of the festival is the Oscar-nominated digital short “Birthday Boy,” made in Australia by Korean director Park Sae-jong.
The films run the gamut from controversial to heartwarming, and give viewers in Korea a chance to see how many of their favorite actors come from the land Down Under.


By Richard Scott-Ashe Contributing Writer [richard@joongang.co.kr]




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