Gwangju film festival will highlight city’s historyThe organizers of this year’s Gwangju International Film Festival drew upon their city’s uniqueness in tonight’s opening ceremony, which they titled “War and Peace.”
The annual film festival in the fifth-largest city in Korea has often been overshadowed by the larger ones in Busan and Jeonju, so the Gwangju organizers decided that this year, they would highlight the city’s place in the nation’s democracy movement.
“The public’s opinion was that our festival had never represented the real Gwangju enough,” one of the organizers said.
The 10-day festival will start with a short movie on the city’s history and a dance by local performers.
Central to the city’s modern identity is the massacre that took place in May 1980, when then- President Chun Doo Hwan ordered soldiers to put down the growing unrest in the city. The number of Gwangju protesters swelled to about 300,000 a few days after the government declared martial law and shut down the universities to quell student demonstrations
Armed forces began shooting protesters, killing many. Civic groups said thousands of people died during the violence, but the Korean government claimed that 191 civilians had died.
After the short, the mood for the rest of the festival will be less solemn and will focus on the works of young contemporary directors. A total of 182 films from 31 countries will be shown during the festival.
The opening film is Jiang Cheng’s “Hands in the Hair,” from China, which expresses people’s inner desires to be freed from both economic hardship and a relationship that is confined to only one person.
The closing film will be Kenji Uchida’s “A Stranger of Mine,” from Japan. The plot revolves around three very different people who end up getting caught in a complex relationship after one of them becomes a hostage for another who never intended to become a kidnapper.
For those viewers who missed any of the popular Korean movies that were released in theaters this year, the organizers have created a session called “Korean Film Now.” It will feature hits like “Marathon,” “Hello, Brother,” “A Bold Family,” “The Red Shoe” and “Antarctic Journal.”
by Lee Min-a
Tickets cost 5,000 won ($5) per screening, but opening and closing ceremonies are 10,000 won each. Screenings will be held at Miligore Cinema and Kwangju Theater in central Gwangju. Most movies will have English subtitles but it’s best to check ahead of time. For a detailed schedule, visit www.giff.org (English available) or call (062) 228-9968.