Little-known gems of films to be shownAlready one of the few arthouse theaters in Seoul, Seoul Art Cinema has been struggling to find a new home before the move-out deadline of early 2005 set by its landlord.
A solution is not yet at hand, but in the meantime the movie house remains true to its reputation, introducing critically acclaimed movies from around the world, no matter their popularity with mainstream viewers.
One such program is the series titled “Cine Rendezvous.” The first installment, which starts next Wednesday and runs through Sept. 8, features four select films from directors in Japan, France, the United States and Georgia.
On the menu is “The Book of Life” (1988), by New York-based independent director Hal Hartley, who is known for an experimental style spiced with black humor. Mr. Hartley positions Jesus and the Virgin Mary at New York’s Kennedy Airport, bound for Manhattan, on Dec. 31, 1999. Sent by the Lord to clear up the chaotic human world, Jesus and Mary begin their journey by deciding whether to save or desert the human race. “The Book of Life” features colorful images and fast-paced editing that portray the confusion of, as well as hope for, the new century.
The other three films are not in English, and, in a rare exception for Seoul Art Cinema, English subtitles are not provided; only Korean subtitles are available.
“L’Humanite” (Humanity) is a 1999 work by the French director Bruno Dumont that won best actor and actress awards at Cannes along with the jury’s grand prize in the same year. Starting with a rape and murder case involving an 11-year-old girl, the film evokes powerful human emotions from a set of temperate images, delivering a commentary on a person’s solitary life in an inhumane world.
From another side of the planet comes “Maboroshi No Hikari” (The Light of Fantasy) by Hirokazu Koreeda, whose most recent work, “Dare Mo Shiranai” (Nobody Knows), won much acclaim this year at Cannes. In “Maboroshi,” Mr. Koreeda talks about loss and love through the death of loved ones.
Otar Iosseliani was born in Tbilisi, in what is now the independent Republic of Georgia, before he headed to France via Russia. His film, “Adieu, plancher des vaches!” (Farewell Home Sweet Home), is about a boy who runs away from his well-off family home to roam about Paris’s back streets, only to end up in jail after getting involved in a murder case.
by Chun Su-jin
Seoul Art Cinema is in the Art Sonje Center, near Anguk station, subway line No. 3, exit 1. Tickets are 6,000 won ($5). For more information, visit www.cinematheque.seoul.kr or call (02) 720-9782.