Festival gives the lowdown on new British films

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Festival gives the lowdown on new British films

Practice your British accent, grab a British friend and head downtown to the Seoul Art Cinema on Friday.

The British Council is holding its seventh annual film festival from Friday to Wednesday in Seoul, with seven feature-length films and six shorts. The festival moves to Busan for screenings Aug. 10-16. "We chose films that depict British contemporary life or show current trends in British filmmaking," said Hwang Jae-moon, the cultural projects officer at the council.

The feature-length films were all released within the past two years. "My Brother Tom" (2000) and "The Low Down" (2000) were chosen with a younger audience in mind. The most promising feature may be "The Claim" (2000), which is debuting in Korea.

The opening film, "Bend It Like Beckham" (2002), also opened the recent Bucheon festival. Two other movies, "My Brother Tom" and "Late Night Shopping" (2000) were in the Bucheon festival last year.

"Bend It Like Beckham," directed by Gurinder Chadha, is about a teenage girl, Jess Bhamra (played by Parminder Nagra), who loves soccer, but her parents view sports as unfeminine and dangerous. When she gets a chance to play with the all-girl Hounslow Harriers, she has to keep it a secret from her family. The movie opens in Korea later this month.

The hottest director whose movie is showing at the festival is Michael Winterbottom, of "The Claim." Mr. Winterbottom creates intense films about human relationships. Based on the Thomas Hardy novel, "The Claim" is about a gold prospector who sells his wife and daughter for the rights to a mine. Twenty years later, his past comes to haunt him.

"My Brother Tom," directed by Dom Rotheroe, is about two teenagers -- Jessica (Jenna Harrison), who is raped by a family friend, and Tom (Ben Whishaw), who is abused by his father -- who become friends and create a fantasy world. Tom runs away from home, only to reappear when Jessica is starting to adjust to life. The film is a digital creation.

"Late Night Shopping" is Saul Metzstein's first big movie; it follows four friends as they work, hang out and talk. Critics liked the film despite dialogue that generally goes: "Do you ever get the feeling we're missing out on something?"

"Yeah, all the time."

"The Low Down," directed by Jamie Thraves, also shows a few days in the lives of a group of friends. A hand-held camera, dialogue that sounds improvised and natural acting give the movie a real feel.

Ms. Hwang at the British Council said, "When people think about British movies, they often think 'boring.' I hope this festival shows that British films are good and cutting-edge."

Visit the Web site at www.bckorea.or.kr.

by Joe Yong-hee

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