[FOUNTAIN]Don't Let This Film Fade to Black

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[FOUNTAIN]Don't Let This Film Fade to Black

Two years ago, strong criticism flared up about lax spending by Pohang Iron & Steel Co., which was then a state-run steelmaker. In an unexpected twist, the criticism led to controversy over "Amabel," an environmental art structure in front of the steelmaker's Seoul headquarters. Absurd calls for demolishing the pricey work of art created by Frank Stella, a master of abstract expressionism, were widespread. Then something happened that reversed the hostility toward the structure.

Lee Sung-nak, vice president of Ajou University, and Jo Young-nam, a popular singer, stood together in front of the sculpture, defending its presence. "Is Amabel mere metal scraps? No." they said. "It's surprising to see how the aesthetics of chaos created by Amabel embraces the cold image of the company. The world would laugh at us if we were to get rid of this outstanding masterpiece for nonartistic reasons."

Their appeal to the public saved Amabel, which still stands. The courage of these two men, who had the guts to say no, rescued a cultural attraction.

Now, Mr. Jo has taken a plunge into a crusade to salvage another piece of art - a film. The singer is leading the campaign for the re-run of a recent movie, "Take Care of My Cat." He formed a group of people who loved the film and is appealing to the city government of Incheon, which is the primary location of the film, to help bring it back to the screen. Is it an overreaction by a busybody? Absolutely not. The film community is paying attention to this appeal more than any other group. Kim Dong-ho, director of the 6th Pusan International Film Festival, has decided to let the movie be admitted into the competition.

If "Take Care of My Cat" wins a prize in the film festival, a re-run is a done deal. A prize would also give more authority to film critics, who declared the movie "the best harvest of Korea's film history." There is something else significant about the high evaluation the film so rightly deserves.

If such quality movies such as "Take Care of My Cat" are pushed aside by higher-grossing films depicting crime and violence, there is no future for Korean movies. Whether "Take Care of My Cat" is the best ever Korean movie is debatable. Still, no one would deny that this maiden work by its director, Jung Jae-eun, is a high achievement. Rereleasing the movie would be a sign of respect a cultural product of quality deserves. Interestingly, the campaign to rescue the "Cat" is showing signs of success. If the movement brings this cat back to life, it would surely be one of those rare pieces of good news. And it is up to us to remember those who ignited the movement.

The writer is a deputy culture news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Cho Woo-suk

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