The 14th Jeonju International Film Festival received more applicants than ever before for the Korean Short Film Competition – a total of 589 films were submitted, quite an increase from the 500 or so short films that are typically submitted. Out of these, 20 finalists were chosen to compete for the Grand Prize and the 5 million KRW reward, as well as the Best Director Prize (3 million KRW) and the Special Jury Prize (2 million KRW).
This year features mostly dramatic films that focus on quite a diverse range of generational and societal issues in Korea, yet there are also a growing number of experimental films as well as two animated shorts.
In this first part focusing on the competition, 10 of the short films are profiled and exemplify the festival’s nature in putting a spotlight on new, raw talent and for pushing boundaries.
Breathe Me (울게 하소서)
Director: Han Eun-young (한은영)
Synopsis: Teenage pregnancy is a growing concern in Korea, particularly the secrecy in which it is shrouded. Director Han examines two such teens as they deliver their baby alone and the stark choices they face, in what looks to be a powerfully solemn drama.
Director: Choi Jung-min (최정민)
Synopsis: One of the more experimental submissions, Broken is a ‘self-reflexive narration’ that employs and juxtaposes news text from the past with images from the present. Director Choi apparently seeks to create conflict between the words and pictures.
Director: Jung Wook (정욱)
Synopsis: Family deals with a group of teenage runaways who have found accommodation in the form of a public bathroom. Director Jung explores their lives as they earn money illegally and continue their squalid existence, as well as the rejection from those supposed to protect them.
Flamenco Nina (플라멩코 소녀)
Director: Lee Chan-ho (이찬호)
Synopsis: The difficult life of extremely shy Jeong-hye is conveyed through this short, and the stresses she is unable to deal with prove a constant source of frustration. Yet she finds freedom of expression through dancing, suggesting this entry could be a feel-good character study.
Director: Shin Hyun-tak (신현탁)
Synopsis: One of few films to tackle issues of the older generation, Grecoroman is concerned with the notion of reputation as a security officer is branded a pervert for helping an epileptic child, which in turn prompts him to recall the promise of his youth.
Highs and Lows
Director: Yang Youn-hwa (양연화)
Synopsis: The first of only two animated entries, this 6 minute short focuses on the competitive nature of society and how people scramble to be on top. This is particularly relevant in Korean culture where competition begins very early, and it will be interesting to see it interpreted within animation.
I Have Nothing to Lose (낫씽 투 루즈)
Director: Seo Won-tae (서원태)
Synopsis: Another experimental entry, I Have Nothing to Lose blends images and text together to create ‘various strands of meaning’. At only 8 minutes it will be interesting to see what meanings director Seo manages to conjure, as well as what overall theme and/or message the film contains.
Late Summer in 1984 (나는 자랑스런 태극기 앞에)
Director: Yoo Yong-ji (유용지)
Synopsis: Elements of the capitalist/communist history of Korea are dealt with in director Yoo’s Late Summer in 1984, depicting a family that is torn apart by ideological differences through the perspective of a young boy. Potentially a very illuminating piece.
Mask and Mirror (가면과 거울)
Director: Min Byung-hun (민병훈)
Synopsis: Following the life of an elderly artist living in Paris, this short film delves into the issues of those in their twilight years. As the main protagonist is an artist, director Min uses experimental images to emphasize such thoughts on life and death.
My Sweet Home (열여덟 반,)
Director: Jung Seoung-oh (정승오)
Synopsis: A tale of a boy on the fringes, My Sweet Home conveys the life of a young man with little ambition who sports tenuous relationships with those around him.