Festival salutes alternative spirit of HongdaeDespite the media bashing of indie bands after two punk rock musicians dropped their trousers during a live television broadcast earlier this month, organizers of the Seoul Fringe Festival 2005, which begins today, aren’t batting an eye. In fact, the festival this year is on for two weeks, with programs added to offer a wider range of fringe productions.
The event, which marks its eighth year, is now a symbolic icon of the alternative spirit of Hongdae that turned underground rock bands like Crying Nut and No Brain into mainstream music celebrities.
Once again, the festival livens up the town with non-stop comedy, plays, exhibits and street performances by independent theater groups, musicians and artists who, like the festival’s slogan, “The Song of Passionate Dreams,” represent the alternative spirit of Hongdae, a redoubt of punk bands and cultural eccentricity.
Today at 6 p.m., the festival opens with mixed grooves starring Crying Nut, Lazy Monday, a jazz band, performances by the theater group Dreamplay and other live shows.
At Theater Choo, films by three Asian independent filmmakers will be screened.
Woo Mi-seon from Taiwan presents “Fluffy Rhapsody” and “Drop Me a Cat,” films dealing with young Taiwanese living in Taipei that have been nominated for awards at film festivals in Chicago and Gothenburg, Sweden.
Akira Matsuda from Japan, dubbed “the master of independent filmmaking,” is a producer, scriptwriter and filmmaker who has developed a cult following in his country with films like “Season of a Hungry Ogre” and “Settling a Man’s Dream,” which will be shown at the festival.
Hwang Cheol-min from Korea, known for his political documentaries, is offering two features, including “F*** Hamlet,” based on a story of an actor in Berlin who is desperately trying to get the role of Hamlet.
At live clubs in the Hongdae and Sinchon area, hundreds of indie rock bands, including Lazy Bone and My Aunt Mary, will set a new model of “an extreme scene” of “uncensored” Korean punk rock bands.
In fringe theaters in Hongdae, a mix of mime, dance, plays and non-verbal performances will present an edgy side of stage art that is rare in larger productions. The section presents 35 works altogether, mostly by young, up-and-coming theater actors and producers who work in both fringe and mainstream theater.
Art galleries are no exception to the “fringe” spirit of the festival.
At Ssamzie Space, which has always been a mecca for young experimental artists, organizers have put together a show by an artist collective called Blue Capsule that turns the square walls of the gallery into an eclectic space completely redesigned by the artists through sound, color, stage set and special art direction.
by Park Soo-mee
The festival runs from today through Aug. 27. The admission fee for film screenings at Theater Choo is 4,000 won for adults and 3,000 won for students. Tickets for concerts and performances are 12,000 won. Admission to all galleries is free. For more information, call 02-325-8150. For a detailed program, visit www.seoulfringe.net. To reach the festival, get off at Hongik University station, line No. 2, exit 6, and walk toward the front gate of the university.