Women’s voices come through on film

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Women’s voices come through on film


“Half-life,” which opened the 11th International Women’s Film Festival in Seoul

Women from all walks of life are in the spotlight at this year’s International Women’s Film Festival in Seoul.

The festival, inaugurated in 1997 to support and promote female filmmakers, kicked off yesterday and will feature 105 films from 23 countries. It runs to April 16.

Opening the festival yesterday evening at the Artreon Theater in Shinchon, northwestern Seoul, was “Half-life,” the first feature film by Asian-American director Jennifer Phang. The film tells the story of a 19-year-old girl and her younger brother as they grapple with the loss of their absent father and the disturbing presence of their mother’s younger boyfriend.

People who missed yesterday’s screening can catch it again April 11 or 13.

The focus of this year’s festival is female labor and poverty, according to Lee Hye-kyung, chief executive of the International Women’s Film Festival in Seoul.

“While women’s role in society has grown considerably in recent years with an increase in the number of working women, women continue to be plagued by socioeconomic polarization,” said Lee.

“It seems natural and necessary to examine issues related to women’s labor and poverty in this era of globalization, in which increasing numbers of women are bravely crossing borders for work or marriage,” Lee said.

A section devoted to these issues, called Women’s Labour and Poverty, will feature five films from three countries, including “Mamma Please Call Me” about a woman who leaves her home in the Philippines to go to London in search of work as a housekeeper.

On Tuesday, issues from the five selections featured in the Women’s Labor and Poverty section will be explored further in an international conference held at Ewha Womans University, event organizers said.

Another special section at this year’s festival is On Aging, which will feature 13 films from eight countries. This section delves into what it’s like to grow older as a woman in today’s world, where female beauty is still generally defined by youth and sexuality.

The New Currents section, the festival’s core program, showcases the latest films by selected female directors to reveal current trends in women’s film.

Many of the films in the New Currents program are by emerging filmmakers, with one notable exception. Agnes Varda, known as the “godmother of women’s film,” returns to the festival this year with “The Beaches of Agnes,” an autobiographical film that reflects on her cinematic career, event organizers said.


“Finn’s Girl,” which is part of the Queer Rainbow section. Provided by the organizer

Popular festival programs from previous year such as Queer Rainbow and the Asian Short Film & Video Competition are back again this year. The festival also gives festival goers a chance to talk with filmmakers, take workshops and network with industry insiders.


Also new this year is the inclusion of a special childcare facility, which is located on the third floor of the Artreon Theater.

By Park Sun-young [spark0320@joongang.co.kr]

Tickets for films shown more than 24 hours in advance can be purchased online at www.wffis.or.kr. General tickets cost 5,000 won ($3.78) and the early screening 4,000 won per person. People wishing to buy tickets for screenings on the day of the film must purchase tickets in person at the Artreon Theater in Sinchon, which is located near Sinchon subway station, line No. 2, exit 4.

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