Movie festival revamps a key project

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Movie festival revamps a key project

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JEONJU, North Jeolla - The Jeonju International Film Festival (JIFF) is aiming to make small but meaningful changes in the local indie film scene by revamping a few of its flagship Jeonju Cinema Project’s (JCP) key components.

JCP, named the Jeonju Digital Project until last year, is a program in which selected aspiring directors receive financial and systematic aid to shoot and distribute movies.

Last year, JIFF expanded its funding capacity from three short movies that make up an omnibus when completed to three distinctive full-length films in order to ensure more distribution channels outside of the event.

Shorts are not widely screened outside of film festivals.

Additionally, the term “digital” was discarded from the title of the project from this year because it is now considered outdated in a world where pretty much everything is available in the format.

“The ‘diversity’ and ‘digital’ aspect used to be the main objectives of our program,” said Ko Suk-man, the festival’s director, during a press conference in Jeonju on Saturday.

“But things have changed now and digitalization has already become embodied in us,” he added.

“We instead decided to focus on maximizing the diversity aspect.”

Making the best use of the resources and the accumulated knowledge the festival has garnered in the movie industry was another reason behind the update.

“We wanted to experiment with JIFF’s ingenious way of producing and distributing films” said the festival’s programmer, Jang Byung-won.

The three beneficiaries of the Jeonju Cinema Project 2015 are Kim Heejung, Lee Hyun-jung and Benjamin Naishtat, who were allotted 100 million won ($92,000) each last year to make their films. The three movies premiered during the first two days of the festival amid high expectations.

“It was a huge amount of freedom,” Argentinian director Naishtat said about the production process of his feature, “El Movimiento,” during the press conference.

“Usually, when you have to do a film, you have to finance it beforehand,” he added.

“As a result, sometimes directors change their own thinking according to those decision-makers’ preferences - something easy to read. But it was kind of opposite.”

In his new black-and-white film, Naishtat, who won the top prize in the international competition at last year’s JIFF with “History of Fear,” questions the root of people’s cynicism and the hunger for power that prevailed in his home country during the 19th century.

Director Lee’s “Samnye” stands out for its experimental approach merging dream-like scenes with documentary-style storytelling.

Lee, who became fascinated with the small town the movie is named after, which is located between Jeonju and Iksan in North Jeolla, tells the bizarre fictional story of wannabe filmmaker Seung-woo who travels to the city to find his cinematic inspiration.

“I wanted to show the time point of the present and the future like the image of twisted layers of strata. I wanted to visualize those nuances,” explained Lee regarding the film’s dominant mysterious and surreal ambience.

“I really thank JIFF because if it weren’t for this framework it would have been very hard for a movie like this to be produced in feature length.”

Director Kim’s “Snow Paths” explores the meaning of addiction by trailing an alcoholic, Jeong-woo, who admits himself into a church retreat to fix his addiction.

After the three films finish screening at the festival, JIFF will help the directors find a distributor with an aim to release the movies nationwide in the second half of this year. It will also attempt to get the works onto the lineups of film festivals overseas.

“Although it may be small, we want to suggest an exemplary model [in the film business]. We are approaching the matter in a very genuine manner,” said Ko.

After watching how this year’s festival and the JCP turns out, programmer Jang said that the organization might consider expanding the number of films that will receive support.

JIFF runs until Saturday at various venues in Jeonju. For more information about the festival, visit www.jiff.or.kr.

BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]


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