Korea picked for first French film festival this year

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Korea picked for first French film festival this year

Over the past four years, the French Film Festival here has been criticized for being a reprise of Yokohama Film Festival in Japan. But this year, the festival is a big change.
The festival, which kicked off yesterday and runs through next Tuesday in Seoul, will be one month ahead of the Japanese festival and also the first of several French film festivals to be held in Asia. With an exception of one film, “Aaltra,” which won the Best Actor’s Award at the Bucheon Film Festival last year, the 14 films shown during the festival will be Asia-wide premieres.
The opening film was a 2004 romantic comedy “Venus and Fleur” at CGV Yongsan in central Seoul, where the rest of the 14 films will be shown. French actress Veroushka Knoge, who stars as an extroverted young Russian woman, Venus, and the film’s director, Emmanuel Mouret, met with the audience at the screening.
Partnered with CJ CGV multiplex theaters, the festival will travel to Seomyeon from June 3 to 6, followed by Gwangju from June 10 to 12.
Two cultural counselors at the French Embassy in Korea, Nicolas Piccato and Henri Bacquet, worked as festival programmers under Jean-Luc Maslin, the newly appointed director of the French Cultural Center.
By stressing “cultural diversity” in Korea and France, Mr. Maslin has the ultimate goal of promoting Korean films in Europe. The first step was to program the festival in favor of local tastes to help improve the image of French films in Korea.
“French films are known to be artistic but also old-fashioned and difficult,” Mr. Maslin said during the press conference held at CGV’s theaters in Yongsan last week. “We wanted to change that by showing sexy and fun films targeting the younger generation.”
“Based on trailers and synopses, we chose various genres of movies that have some attitudes we found in Koreans; there are crime movies and romantic comedies of course and horror films in the summer,” Mr. Piccato said.
Mr. Maslin and programmers announced that there were eight short erotic films, often declassified in big [festival] selections. When Mr. Maslin commented that erotic films were in fact “art movies,” a couple of excited local journalists asked if they could see the preview right away.
Program creators recommended, among others, the cop thriller, “36 Quai de Orfevres,” starring Gerard Depardiue, nominated eight times at the Berlin Film Festival. Also recommended: The black comedy, “Le Couperet” (“The Axe”), an opener at the San Francisco International Film Festival earlier this year and the comedy “Ne Quittez Pas” (“Local Call”) by French director Arthur Joffe.
All films with the exception of one ― “Rois et Reine” starring Catherine Deneuve ― will have Korean and English subtitles.
The CGV Yongsan multiplex theater is located at Yongsan Station on subway line No. 1. Admission to each film costs 6,000 won ($6). Members of CGV and the French Cultural Center and Alliance students will receive a 1,000 won discount. For more information, visit www.cgv.co.kr or www.ambafrance-kr.org/festival.

by Ines Cho
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