Celebrating nothing but cinemaKorea is fast turning into something of a paradise for lovers of film festivals. International festivals are held in almost every season and all over the peninsula. As of today, the Jongno district in central Seoul has a festival of its own.
Jongno is key to the history of movies in Korea. Danseongsa, the country’s first movie theater, opened there in 1907, followed in 1912 by another, called Umigwan. The first Jongno Film Festival honors this heritage by screening over 30 films from around the world.
The opening film is a Korean romance and drama, “This Charming Girl,” a prizewinner at last month’s Pusan International Film Festival. The screening starts at 8:40 p.m., right after the opening ceremony at 8 p.m., and will have English subtitles.
Unfortunately, none of the other films in the festival will have English subtitles. But some selections don’t need them, having been filmed in English. They include “Monster,” with Charlize Theron as a serial killer, which had a short run in Korea earlier this year, and last year’s “Elephant,” directed by Gus Van Sant, a fictional treatment of a massacre like the one at Columbine High School (they screen at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, respectively).
Other films to be screened include “Vanity Fair,” the classic novel as reimagined by India-born British director Mira Nair, with Reese Witherspooon starring; “The Dreamers” by master filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci, and an animated version of “The Christmas Carol” by Jimmy T. Murakami.
Many Japanese films will be screened, such as “Swallowtail Butterfly” (1996) by Shunji Iwai, “A Snake of June” (2002) by Shinya Tsukamoto and “Give it All” (2002) by Itsumuchi Isomura. Also awaiting cinephiles are films that have won acclaim at international festivals. “Clean” stars Maggie Cheung and is directed by her ex-husband Olivier Assayas; Ms. Cheung won a best actress award at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival.
“City of God” is a shockingly realistic look at the world of gangsters in Rio De Janeiro. “Exiles” is by Algerian-French director Tony Gatlif, who also composed the film’s feast of gypsy music.
The festival’s most ambitious project, however, is an all-night Wong Kar-wai special, dubbed Midnight Express, to be held Friday and Saturday night. Each night, three of the Hong Kong director’s films, “Days of Being Wild” (1990), “In the Mood for Love” (2003) and “2046” (2004), will be screened consecutively, starting at midnight and running until dawn.
Except for the Wong Kar-wai films and the opening film, which will be shown at Cine Core theater, all screenings are at Core Art Hall, a five-minute walk away in the Insa-dong area. email@example.com
Tickets for the opening film are 7,000 won ($6); all others are 5,000 won. Admission to the overnight Wong Kar-wai screenings is 12,000 won. Cine Core is near Jongno 3-ga station on subway line No. 1, exit 15. For Core Art Hall, take subway line No. 1, get off at Jonggak station and use exit 5. For more information, visit www.jnff.co.kr or call Cine Core at (02) 2285-2090, or Core Art Hall at (02) 739-9932.
by Chun Su-jin