[ENTERTAINMENT]A Film Festival Without any ImpedimentsAs many as 4 million Koreans would like to go to theaters to see movies but usually cannot. These are the disabled. Though Korea has made many strides in recent years, it still cannot be described as an advanced country in terms of providing help for handicapped. Hardly any movie theaters in Korea are equipped to seat the disabled.
In August, to express their frustration over their inability to use public facilities, an advocacy group for the handicapped demonstrated in the street and shut down a public bus. When even their basic living needs are not guaranteed, it's almost certain that most forms of recreation for the disabled are out of question.
Addressing this is a film festival tailored especially for the handicapped. The Persons with Disabilities Film Festival, in its second year, will run from Wednesday through Sunday at Artsonje Center in Seoul. "Last year's festival was not that impressive in scale, but it was cozy; the most important thing was that all the participants were so happy," said Kang Ji-hee, a public relations manager for the festival.
Indeed, this year's festival is broadened in scale, with a more varied screening schedule and more funding for the disabled filmmakers and actors. Extra facilities include special headsets for the hearing-impaired that enable them to feel the sounds vibrating in their bones. Also, every film will be screened with Korean subtitles.
Some 27 films, both from Korea and other countries such as Japan, will be shown. The organizers of the festival conducted a survey to determine which movies the disabled most wanted to see. "We made especially sure that the disabled can see the latest popular films that they had no access to before," Ms. Kang explained. Topping the list was "Musa" ("The Warrior"), followed by "Shilla-eui Dalbam" ("Kick the Moon"), "Yeopgijeokin Geunyeo" ("My Eccentric Girlfriend") and "Seonmul" ("The Last Present"). Unfortunately the organizers were unable to arrange screenings of all four of the films; only the latter two will be shown. But the attendees will be lucky enough to see "Waikiki Brothers," a local production set for nationwide release on Oct. 27, before it hits the theaters.
Included on the agenda are films based on the lives of disabled people. Of special note is the Japanese animation movie "Dotori-eui Jip" ("The House of Acorn"), which tells the story of a disabled child and the people around her. It sold more than 1 million tickets in Japan. Also, the writer and the producer of the film will show up at the festival on Wednesday to hold a discussion with the audience. The gathering will begin at 2 p.m. and last for up to four hours. "The discussion will focus mainly on the reality of the disabled based on the cases shown in Japan," Ms. Kang said.
Everyone is welcome to the festival after calling the organizing association at 02-871-4094. Best of all, admission is free.
by Chun Su-jin