[ENTERTAINMENT]New life for commercial orphan films

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[ENTERTAINMENT]New life for commercial orphan films

Though this is a boom time for the movie industry, Jang Seon-young, who works for a small-scale movie distributing agency, is as downcast as ever. Last year her firm released David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive" (2001), Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now Redux" (2001) and Xiaoshuai Wang's "Beijing Bicycle" (2001). With the recent advent of multiplex theaters, Ms. Jang was sure that each movie would get at least five screens and commensurate grosses.

Ms. Jang pinned her hopes particularly on Lynch's latest, which won the Best Director award at Cannes in 2000. "Mulholland Drive" opened in Korea on Nov. 30, but Ms. Jang was chagrined. "Only one screen in Seoul and one in Gwangju were available," she said. At the time, she pointed out, one multiplex in Seoul had devoted four screens to the local mass-appeal film "Whasango" ("Volcano High"). "Mulholland Drive" held on for three weeks, attracting slightly more than 10,000 viewers.

"Beijing Bicycle," which was shown at 14 theaters over two weeks, ran up similar numbers. "Apocalypse" did better - 45 theaters, four weeks and 120,000 viewers - but had the support of a big distributing company, 20th Century Fox Korea.

"Those multiplexes just get more and more commercial," Ms. Jang said. Indeed, most films that hold fast to artistic significance and compromise commercial success in the process come and go without much recognition.

Swimming against that current, local filmmakers organized a festival last month to support the survival of the commercially unattractive films. The title of the event, WaRaNaGo, came from the initial syllables of four recent movies - "Waikiki Brothers," "Raybang," "Nabi" ("Butterfly") and "Goyangireul Butakhae" ("Take Care of My Cat") - which all fared about as poorly as "Mulholland Drive." The festival was popular with cinephiles, and its success begat another festival, which will give moviegoers another chance to see "Mulholland Drive" and 10 other domestic and international films. The event, "The Last Propose From Hypertheque Nada," kicked off at the end of last month and will run through next Thursday. Hypertheque Nada, located in the Dongsung Art Theater in Daehangno, Seoul, bills itself as one of the few cinemas that shuns commercial films.

The lineup includes "Pollock" (2000) directed by Ed Harris, "Gods and Monsters" (1998) by Bill Condon, "Love's a Bitch" (2000) by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, "Devils on the Doorstep" (2000) by Wen Jiang and "Go" (1999) by Isao Yukisada. Also on tap are Ms. Jang's aforementioned, luckless trio. Rounding out the bill are the domestic films "Raybang," "Butterfly" and "Flower Island." There are no English subtitles for any of the other-language films.

The theater has five showings daily, at 11:20 a.m., 1:40 p.m., 4 p.m., 6:20 p.m. and 8:40 p.m. On Wednesday, there is no show at 4 p.m. Admission is 5,000 won ($3.60). To reach the Dongsung Art Center, take the No. 4 subway line to Hyehwa station and go out exit 1. For more information, call 02-3672-0181.

by Chun Su-jin

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