Grown-up comics take their place at festival
For those who think animation festivals are only for kids, the Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival wants to prove you wrong. The annual festival returns for its 16th year on July 18 with more adult-friendly fare than before.
“Animations on topics appropriate for adults have grown more popular over the last year,” said Chae Song-sil, a team manager of the five-day festival, during a press conference held last month. “In particular, the animated films cover serious societal issues.”
In total, the festival attracted 1362 entrants from 45 nations this year, and it will showcase 152 movies from 30 countries. Five feature-length animations should garner much attention, though some 150 films from the noncompetitive segment will also hit screens.
“Wrinkles” by Spanish director Ignacio Ferreras is among the most prominent movies being shown and will open the festival this year. An adaptation of a comic book by Spanish cartoonist Paco Roca, the Oscar nominee for the best animated feature explores the day-to-day trials of two seniors in a geriatric hospital.
The drama traces the changing course of the relationship between the two retirees, who later learn that the power of friendship is the best asset against the inevitable onset of old age.
It has received international recognition from critics including Neil Young of The Hollywood Reporter, who called the film “a genuine crowd pleaser deserving of the widest possible exposure” and “one of the most accomplished Spanish films, from any genre, of recent years.”
Another highlight is Korea’s “The King of Pigs” by Yeun Sang-ho. It not only won three awards at the Busan International Film, but also became the first Korean animation to be featured at the Cannes Film Festival this year.
“The King of Pigs” delves into the dark side of human nature at an all-boys middle school in Seoul where bullying and violence are predominant. What distinguishes “The King of Pigs” is its successful attempt to depict Korean school bullying in detail, instead of settling for a general impression. But if you find “The King of Pigs” too cruel, Lee Dae-hee’s “Padak” could be a softer option. The animated indie made its Korean premiere at the 13th Jeonju International Film Festival. Lee’s debut feature centers on a school of fish in a water tank at a sushi restaurant, some of which try to get out while others don’t. A series of power struggles and other conflicts often occur between the two groups.
The director says the water tank is a “microcosm of human society” and his assertion does indeed seem viable. Viewers will likely ponder disturbing questions about human misery, social hierarchy and real happiness long after the credits roll.
A focus on more adult animations doesn’t fully exclude children-friendly works, though. Younger audience members are sure to get a kick out of adventurous features including “Sammy’s Adventures 2,” directed by Belgian Ben Stassen, and “Fimfarum Third Time Lucky” by Czech trio Kristina Dufkova, David Sukup and Vlasta Pospislova.
For those who prefer a faster pace, a series of short films might be the best option. Erick Oh’s “How To Eat Your Apple” runs less than two minutes but effectively portrays themes of birth and death using an apple as its main medium. Viewers are sure to be impressed at how the wheel of life is condensed in such a succinct, witty way.
Another distinctive short is “Noodle Fish,” a pin-screen animation directed by Kim Jin-man. The movie was made with plain noodles bought at supermarkets. The short depicts a grown fish’s journey into the real world after leaving the water.
Also recommended are Wendy Tilby’s short film “Wild Life,” Czech director Tomas Lunak’s horror “Alois Nebel,” and French directors David Alaux and Eric Tosti’s film “The Jungle Bunch - Back to the Ice Floe.”
There will also be educational programs for all generations. A lecture by Korean-born animators at Pixar will showcase their work, an exhibition will focus on baseball-themed cartoons and a performance will feature American cartoonist Jim Davis’ famous cat character Garfield. Japanese cartoonist Soda Masahito will also hold an autograph session.
By Park Eun-jee [email@example.com]
*The Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival runs from July 18 to 22. Tickets range from 3,000 won to 8,000 won for cartoon exhibitions, and 4,000 won to 5,000 won for film screenings.
Exhibitions will be held at three locations in the capital: COEX in Samseong-dong, the Seoul Animation Center in Yejang-dong and Palgak Square on Namsan. The content market, called the Seoul Promotion Plan, will take place at the conference center in the COEX complex. Tickets are on sale now. For more information, visit www.sicaf.org.