Highlighting women’s films

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Highlighting women’s films

The screen goes up today on the fifth nearly annual edition of the Women’s Film Festival in Seoul. It’s growing into one of Korea’s major cinema events.
First up is the movie “A Smile,” directed by Park Kyoung-hee. The story follows a photographer who is diagnosed with an eye disease that may lead to blindness. How will she face life now that her career is on the verge of being crippled?
From dramas like “A Smile” to digitally created films to movies about sexuality, 120 international films will be screened at the eight-day festival, based in Daehangno, central Seoul. Most of the films have English subtitles.
“For years, women had no voice,” says Nam In-young, the festival’s director. “In a public space, women had to watch their behavior. But they had eyes and thoughts.”
Over its short history, the festival has become a celebration of womanhood, a networking opportunity and a space for women to be heard and to watch films made through a woman’s eyes. The festival is divided into eight programs: New Currents, Asian Cinema, Focus on Lea Pool, Korean Cinema Retrospective, Deep Focus, Feminist Film and Video Activism, Asian Short Film and Video Competition and Special Screening.
New Currents showcases 37 films, from Doris Dorrie’s “Naked” (Germany) to Rakhshan Bani Etemad’s “Under the Skin of the City” (Iran). The Asian Cinema section is devoted to movies from the Philippines.
The Korean Cinema Retrospective includes Kim Soo-young’s 1967 “Flame in the Valley,” and Park Sang-ho’s 1963 “Ttosuni.” The four films in this section star Do Keum-bong, the femme fatale of the 1960s. Deep Focus spotlights 25 feminist experimental films and videos. Feminist Film focuses on teenagers, the disabled and female laborers.
Among the 157 applicants for the Asian Short Films competition were films from Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Israel, India, Japan, China and Hong Kong, but only 18 films were chosen.
In order to create an atmosphere that will facilitate discussion, organizers are hosting seminars, inviting guests from around the world and providing a nursery so that mothers can attend. About 70 percent of the festival’s attendees are usually women.
There will be an event for women’s rights advocates, open stage performances and forums featuring such directors as Joyce Bernal of “Because There’s You” (Philippines), Janet Merewether of “Cheap Blonde” (New Zealand) and Lea Pool of “Letter to My Daughter” (Canada).
“We don’t expect the public to become one voice, and we are not limited to one vision” Ms. Nam says. “We have created a public space for people to communicate with each other. Through it, we hope to understand each other and embrace our differences.”


by Joe Yong-hee

For more information, visit the Web site at www.wffis.or.kr.
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