Art-house films come to JeonjuFor demanding filmgoers, one of the top film festivals on the peninsula is again upon us. The Jeonju International Film Festival, known for its radical and experimental selections of films, starts today and runs through May 4 under the grand slogan of “Freedom, Independence and Communication.”
Despite three years of instability ― the festival suffered through a walkout of festival programmers and plenty of criticism about its identity ― the organizers managed to pull together an impressive list of films this year while staying faithful to the festival’s original focus on alternative culture.
Perhaps the most highly expected event of the festival is the opening film, which has always been an important premiere for new Korean films. “Waikiki Brothers” by Lim Soon-rye and “Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors” by Hong Sang-soo are some of the past opening films to make their debuts at the festival.
“If You Were Me,” the opening film this year, is a collection of shorts that takes a critical look at various kinds of human rights violation in Korea. The film consists of six shorts by Korean filmmakers who are considered some of the biggest names in the local art-house scene.
Park Chan-wook, the director of “Joint Security Area,” tackles the human rights of foreign laborers in Korea by looking into the life of a Nepalese woman named Chandra.
Yeo Kyun-dong, the director of “The Adventure of Mrs. Park,” created a documentary about a paralytic actor, Kim Moon-joo. Jeong Jae-eun, the director of “Take Care of My Cat,” raises questions about the human rights of sex offenders, while veteran Park Kwang-su, who often makes films on controversial historical incidents, produces a film about the obsession with looks in Korean society. Lim Soon-rye discusses discrimination against women in her “Her Weight,” while Park Jin-pyo, a former television producer and the director of the controversial film “Too Young to Die,” looks at child abuse through a young boy who undergoes tongue surgery in order to learn English.
One of the most notable aspects about this year’s Jeonju is its emphasis on documentaries, a genre considered somewhat passe in the contemporary film industry. A documentary biennial, a special retrospective of documentary filmmakers Tsuchimoto Noriaki and Jean-Claude Rousseau and Danish documentaries will be screened throughout the festival.
Viewers can stay through the night watching cult classics that will be screened during “Midnight Obsession,” a program that has been extremely popular among past festival visitors. The session, which is held from midnight to dawn, screens “Violence Trilogy” by Michael Haneke and “Horror Trilogy” by Larry Fessenden at the Chonbuk University.
Jeonju organizers also like to explore new technological possibilities and progressive trends in modern cinema. “Digital Video Diary” delves into possibilities of using digital video to record the art of everyday life.
Continuing a tradition, Digital Short Films by Three Filmmakers has invited Aoyama Shinji, Bahman Ghobadi and Park Ki-yong this year.
by Park Soo-mee
There will be an outdoor screening of recent Korean films at 8 p.m. each night in Deokjin Park. Each screening costs 5,000 won ($4). Tickets can be reserved at www.jiff.or.kr or by calling 1544-1555. For more information, call (063) 288-5433 or (02) 2285-0562.