A celebration of independent films

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A celebration of independent films

The recent success of two homemade action films has the local movie industry buzzing. “Silmido” is seen as the savior of slumping box office, easily selling 10 million tickets. “Taegukgi” was met with even more enthusiasm, attracting more than 8 million viewers in less than a month.
However, some filmmakers would be happy with a sellout of a 200-seat theater, if they can get their films shown in the first place.
More than 500 independent films are made every year in Korea, and fewer than than 10 percent make it to the big screen, according to Kim Hwa-beom at the Association of Korean Independent Film and Video.
Some of these independents get a chance to showcase their work at a festival titled “Independent Films Meet the Audience,” which starts today at Seoul Art Cinema and runs through Monday.
The festival, which began in 1999, features domestically made 18 short films and one full-length film.
Mr. Kim has seldom seen a full house at the festival, but he has high expectations this time because the festival is partnering with the KBS show “Independent Film Theater,” which will air a few noteworthy shorts. The program airs every Saturday at 1 a.m.
For the festival, the show’s producers have selected films that were either critically acclaimed but couldn’t get aired on TV because of strict ratings standards.
Among KBS producer Lee Kwan-hyung’s recommendations is “Jiugae Ttameokgi” (Eraser Fights), which depicts the power hierarchy of society through children’s games.
Debuting at the festival is “Memories,” a much-anticipated, one-hour documentary on aftermath of last year’s fatal subway fire in Daegu.
The director, Hyun Jong-moon, happened to be at the scene of the fire that killed 192 and injured 148. He automatically turned on his camera to film the course of the traumatic event.
In the film, he accuses government of having an attitude of neglect in dealing with the tragedy.
After the screening, the director will be present for an question-and-answer session with the audience.
Instead of waiting in long line to get a ticket for “Taegukgi,” try something new this weekend at a small arthouse theater where you are heartily welcome.

by Chun Su-jin

Films are grouped into four sections. Tickets cost 5,000 won ($4) for each section, while “Memories” is free to viewers.
To reach Seoul Art Cinema, take subway line No. 3 to Anguk Station and use exit 1. For more information, call (02) 334-3166 or visit www.cinematheque.seoul.kr.
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