Movie-Loving Gwangju Joins Parade of Film Festival Cities

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Movie-Loving Gwangju Joins Parade of Film Festival Cities

When you hear talk of Korea's film culture, it is easy to forget how widely that culture varies around the peninsula. South Jeolla province scores among the lowest in terms of how often people watch movies. But South Jeolla's capital city, Gwangju, paradoxically is among the most enthusiastic places in South Korea for cinema. Its 1.7 movies per person per year trails only Seoul and Busan.

Gwangju's support of the film industry is at last being rewarded with the launch of the first Gwangju International Film Festival, from Dec. 7 to Dec 14.

A total of 130 films, both short and long, will be shown over the course of the festival, in both competitive and noncompetitive categories.

The "Gwangju Image Contest" features 63 entries submitted by the general public, mostly younger artists.

Another unusual focus of Gwangju's festival is films about political issues - not surprising giving that Gwangju is the home of many political movements in Korean history.

The noncompetitive section will provide a gateway to the past and present of the international film world. Works of young directors, not yet familiar to Korean audiences, will be introduced in "Young Cinema," featuring the Portuguese director Pedro Costa's "The Bones" and Japanese director Suwa Nobuhiro's "H Story."

"Masters" includes the latest works of respected directors, including Manoel de Oliveira's "I'm Going Home."

Like most film festivals in Korea, Gwangju will host a retrospective of a veteran director. In this case, it is South Jeolla's very own, the director Im Kwon-taek. Twelve of Im's films, from 1962 to 1997, will be shown over the course of the festival.

There will also be spotlights on the Japanese director Kenji Mizoguchi, who produced many films from the 1920s to the 1950s. Another Japanese director, Oguri Gohei, will also be featured.

For years, Gwangju was considered by many to be a backwater part of Korea. But with events like the Gwangju Biennale art festival and this film festival, the city is becoming a major artistic player in Korea.

by Rhee Hyun-ju

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