Cinephiles can find gems at Gwangju film fest

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Cinephiles can find gems at Gwangju film fest

In Gwangju, the “province of light,” the lights of movies are flickering strong. The 3d Gwangju International Film Festival opened yesterday for a 10-day run.
Starting with Kim Ki-duk’s recent film, “Spring Summer Fall Winter and Spring,” altogether 109 films from 22 countries will be screened.
As this year’s motto, “Cinephile, Shout for Revival,” conveys, the Gwangju International Film Festival has been a festival for diehard movie fans since its inception.
Compared to other domestic film festivals whose works hover somewhere between commercial films and genuine arthouse flicks, Gwangju’s festival has labored to stand on the frontlines of cinema. Festival organizers have emphasized the films of directors who attempt to expand the aesthetic and theme of modern films. This kind of programming, rarely if ever found at other Korean film festivals, places Gwangju in a league of its own.
Some critics have expressed concern over whether Gwangju is a film festival for a minority, as most films presented are the product of virtually unknown directors, whose works are not familiar to most Koreans. Apparently cognizant of such criticism, festival officials have included some films that will appeal to general audiences even while staying true to their theme.
An example of one such effort is the “Best of Japanese Action Films” collection. Major works from the 1960s and 1970s, which have been referred to as Hong Kong noir, are gathered. Ten masterpieces, including Takashi Nomura’s “Colt Is my Passport (1976), Yasuharu Hasebe’s “Gun for Murder” (1967) and Kinji Fukasaku’s “Graveyard for Honor and Humanity” (1975) bring a lively feel to the screen despite their age.
In the “Retrospective of John Ford,” 15 films by the famed director of cowboy films, unique to American cinema, are screened. The collection of films from the 1930s to 60s, such as “Stagecoat” (1939), “Young Mr. Lincoln” (1939), “My Darling Clementine” (1946) and “Seven Women” (1966) constitutes a rare chance to view so many Ford films at once. It is an opportunity for both young and old movie fans to expand their movie tastes.
The Korean actor Ahn Sung-ki garnered his own series of six films, from “A Windy, but Pleasant Day” (1980) to “White Badge” (1992), that illustrates his maturity through the 1980s and 1990s.
Korean cinema will grace the audience in a corner set aside especially for those local films where the director’s persona and style shine through. Examples are “Jealousy Is my Middle Name,” “A Little Monk,” “Oseam” and “Tale of Two Sisters.”
While the aforementioned films generally have broad appeal, several sections are the province of cinephiles, known in Korea as movie maniacs.
Retrospectives by the late French director Maurice Pialat and the late Joao Cesar Monteiro will play, in memory of these two influential minds. The Portuguese director, Monteiro, was known for his poetic lyricism and refusal to bow to conventional theatrical themes; his works dealt with unchained lifestyles and simple sex. Pialat, introduced to Korea through “Van Gogh,” was deemed the most powerful French director of his era. Three of his masterpieces will be shown.
Making its debut this year is a non-fiction cinema corner, where documentaries and experimental pieces will be screened.
“An Injury to One,” directed by Travis Wilkerson, delves into the early stages of America’s labor movement, while Keith Fulton’s “Lost in La Mancha” illuminates the setbacks to the launch of director Terry Gilliam’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.” Such pieces as Daniel Gordon’s “The Game of Their Lives,” which looks into players’ psyches after the 1966 World Cup, in which North Korea made it to the quarterfinals, are especially memorable.
The World’s Best and Young Cinema sections offer films made by foreign directors that are relatively difficult to track down in Korea, making them hard to pass up for diehard moviegoers. Chilean director Raoul Ruiz’s “That Day,” which received outstanding reviews at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, will grace the final screening.
Advance tickets can be bought at 1588-1555. Call (062) 228-9968 for details. For more information, go to www.giff.or.kr.


by Lee Young-gi

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