Reel thing: Indie movies grab spotlight

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Reel thing: Indie movies grab spotlight

The name may sound unfamiliar, but the Korean Independent Film Festival has kicked off its 27th show. The origins of the festival date back to 1975, when the Golden Crown Film Festival and the Korean Youth Festival organized by the Korean Film Commission merged into a modest event showcasing local independent filmmakers and fans of alternative films. Within the last few years, the festival has gradually expanded its scale. Now the festival packs mainstream critics and film celebrities on the jury. The festival began its eight-day run Saturday at the Hypertech Nada Theater in Daehang-no - a major center of Korean alternative cinema in Seoul. More than 100 films will be screened.

Despite the festival's swift development recently, the original spirit of the event remains. Featuring innovative and emerging filmmakers who operate outside of the Chungmuro system, which is the Korean version of Hollywood, this year's festival has feature films, animated films, documentaries and music videos packed into its main program. Perhaps the word "short" in the full Korean title "Korean Independent Short Film Festival" refers not to the lengths of the films, but to the youth and aggressive attitudes of the independent filmmakers. Tellingly, the festival's slogan is "Movies, you're all dead," a reflection of the criticisms of the movie establishment that abound in indie films.

This year the show added a retrospective of a foreign master. The festival organizers decided to honor the Icelandic filmmaker Fridrik Thor Fridriksson, who directed many avant-garde films such as "Angels of Universe" and "White Whales."

The organizers also imported two films from the Sundance and New York independent film festivals - two important venues for independent, alternative films. At midnight on Saturday and Sunday, two 16-millimeter films from the bigger shows will be screened: Bridget Bedard's "Baby" and Victor Buhler's "Chaperone."

Sponsored in part by the Ministry of Unification, the festival also features a series of domestic films dealing with the unification issue, some of which were filmed by teenage filmmakers during a community workshop.

The festival runs through Sunday. For more information on panel discussions and special events, call 02-323-9511. Some, but not all the films be subtitled in English.

by Park Soo-mee

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