Film festival season: Beyond Busan

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Film festival season: Beyond Busan

Movie festivals must go on. Though the country’s largest annual film event, in Busan, closed earlier this month, Korea still has an abundance of other small, colorful festivals. From the Seoul Green Film Festival and CJ Asian Independent Film Festival, both debuting this year, to the 5th European Film Festival, autumn in Seoul seems to be the right season for movies. So get out your calendars and mark the dates for a quality weekend.

Seoul Green Film Festival
The Seoul Green Film Festival, which began yesterday, takes viewers to the world of environmentally friendly cinema. Running through Tuesday, the festival features 101 films from 19 countries in three venues around Seoul ― Cine Cube, Star Six Jeongdong and the Seoul Museum of History ― all within walking distance in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul.
The opening film, “1, 3, 6,” is a collection from three acclaimed Korean directors, Jang Jin, Song Il-gon and Lee Yeong-jae. The film addresses environmental awareness from three different perspectives. There will be English subtitles for the opening film as well as 14 films in the Competition of Environmental Film section. Films with English dialogue include “Super Size Me” from the United States, a critique of the dangers of fast food, “Monumental: David Brower’s Fight to Protect Wild America” and many others.
Tickets can be purchased at each venue at 4,000 won ($3) for all films other than the closing film, which costs 7,000 won.
For further information on the screening schedule, visit www.gffis.org (English available) or call (02) 725-3654.

European Film Festival
Marking its fifth annual session, the European Film Festival has a reputation for being especially popular among young cinephiles, overturning the stereotype that European films are too difficult, or boring.
This year’s festival, called “Neuropean Parade” by the organizers, features a selection of fun and exciting films. It starts Wednesday and runs through Oct. 31. All screenings take place at Megabox Cineplex at COEX, southern Seoul, best reached from Samseong station on subway line No. 2.
The opening film this year is “Vanity Fair,” based on the classic novel by William Makepeace Thackeray. Directed by Mira Nair, “Vanity Fair” stars Reese Witherspoon as the lead character, Becky Sharp, an attractive and witty young lady of low birth, ready to make any sacrifice to climb high up the social hierarchy.
This year’s program is especially notable in the National Choice section, where the latest films from master directors are presented. Ken Loach presents “A Fond Kiss,” a brand-new romance and drama. This British director, who cemented his fame with leftist films like “Bread and Roses,” this time offers a love story between a British woman and a Pakistani man in London.
Wim Wenders, a German-born director acclaimed worldwide, returns with “Land of Plenty.” Italy’s Bernardo Bertolucci, perhaps best known for “Last Tango in Paris,” presents “The Dreamers,” again a story about a young American man involved in a strange love affair in Paris.
Other notable selections include “Head-on” from young German director Fatih Akin and “Exiles” from France, both well-received at this year’s Pusan International Film Festival.
Other sections include European New Wave and Hot Breakers, featuring box-office hits. For moviegoers who think the night is always young, the festival offers midnight-to-dawn screenings, dubbed Midnight Express, including “Scent of Blood,” a French film about love triangles, and “Beyond Re-Animator,” an English-language horror film from Spain based on H.P. Lovercraft’s writing.
For more information, visit www.meff.co.kr.

CJ Asian Independent Film Festival
CGV, a nationwide multiplex theater chain, this week debuted the CJ Asian Independent Film Festival. Named after its parent company, CJ, the festival gives viewers a chance to grasp the current trend of Asian independent films. Sany films have English subtitles.
For details, visit www.cjaiff.com or call (02) 2112-6525.
Kim Ki-duk Retrospective and Japanese Film Festival
Megabox, another giant multiplex theater chain in rivalry with CGV, is hosting two festivals in November ― a special retrospective of Kim Ki-duk starting Nov. 1 and a Japanese Film Festival from Nov. 11. Six films of the director Kim, who has become a darling of international film festivals, are featured over three days.
The Japanese Film Festival, on the other hand, presents 46 films to commemorate the lifting of a ban on Japanese pop culture in Korea early this year. Films that were produced from 1965, the year when the two countries normalized diplomatic relations, to 1998 will be presented at an affordable admission fee of 1,000 won.
A portion of the profits will be donated to the House of Sharing, a community of elderly Korean women who were forced to be sex slaves for the Japanese Army during World War II. No English subtitles are to be provided for either festival.
For more information, visit www.megabox.co.kr.


by Chun Su-jin
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