December (디셈버)

JIFF 2013: Quick Fire Reviews 5

Additional quick-fire reviews from the 14th Jeonju International Film Festival:

December (디셈버)

December (디셈버)

December (디셈버) – 6/10

The big winner at JIFF 2013 scoring the Grand Prize in the Korean Film Competition, December is a charming and raw exploration of the building of relationships. Structured in accordance with the months of the year, director Park Jeong-hoon (박정훈) uses the time frame to convey the burgeoning relationship between a female high school student and a male convenience store clerk, and how small moments are built into something more. The protagonists are highly compelling, particularly as the girl manipulates situations into bringing the two closer together such as buying sanitary towels in order to prove her ‘womanhood’. Yet December is also crucially missing an emotional core that stops empathy from evolving between the characters and the audience, something which greater character development would easily remedy. A compelling and interesting, although emotionally lacking, film.

My Place (마이 플레이스)

My Place (마이 플레이스)

My Place (마이 플레이스) – 9/10

My Place is everything a great documentary should be. The film is a wonderful and heart-filled love letter to family, one that takes an uncompromising look at wounds past and present in the forging of a person’s personality. Perhaps more surprisingly is that such a raw exploration is based on director Park Moon-chil’s (박문칠) own family, which lends further credibility and sincerity. As the documentary unfolds everyone – including director Park – changes and comes to understand each other with greater depth. The inclusion of the cultural, generational and gendered differences that have effected the family is brilliant, yet the real masterstroke comes from places the director’s sister Peace at the center of the film. As a single mum challenging every ideological form in her path, it is her character that makes for such compelling viewing. A must-watch film, recommended.

Remiges

Remiges

Remiges – 8/10

Japanese film Remiges, by writer/director Ozawa Masato, is a deeply poignant examination of youths who suffer from abusive parents. The fragile psychology of central protagonist Sayako is slowly conveyed throughout the course of the film, moving from simply being a bad kid to a complex, abused victim. While the teenager initially appears to be selfish and irresponsible, her actions are the ramifications of years of awful parenting. Director Masato employs non-linear editing in order to portray the torment Sayako suffered as a young child, and is far from contrived as each scene lends further information and empathy to her situation, giving credence to her anti-social behaviour. Symbolism is also used well throughout Remiges, including a parrot horrifically having it’s wings clipped, while Sayako’s plight is mirrored amongst the other characters she comes into contact with. A powerful and insightful film about youth.

Trunk (트렁크)

Trunk (트렁크)

Trunk (트렁크) – 5/10

Trunk is best thought of as a showcase for director Kim Hyeon-cheol’s (김현철) talents rather than a great piece of filmmaking. That’s not to say that it’s a bad film at all, as what is on display is a very competent approach to both the horror and thriller genres. Director Kim employs a host of stereotypical conventions in portraying the story of a woman whose curiosity gets the better of her when she spies an open trunk. To say more would involve spoilers, but tension is constructed well as the story progresses. Howver, the attempt to add an original spin doesn’t really work and comes off as silly, undermining the suspense generated prior. Trunk is a competent showcase, and it will be interesting to see what director Kim does next.

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Festival News Jeonju International Film Festival (제14회 전주국제영화제) Korean Festivals 2013
JIFF 2013

JIFF 2013: Korean Films in Competition

JIFF 2013

JIFF 2013

The 14th Jeonju International Film Festival is almost upon us, kicking off on the 25th of April and running for a week through to the 3rd of May. After the huge controversies surrounding the festival last year, JIFF is reinventing itself with new programmers and staff as well as holding additional events due to take place nearby.

As always JIFF will screen a great variety of film talent focusing specifically on the independent sector. Opening with the joint French/Canadian film Fox Fire (폭스파이어) by director Laurent Cantet, a host of new film-making talent will be on display until closing film Wajida (와즈다), by Saudi Arabian director Haifaa Al Mansour, is screened.

For the full list of films being shown at JIFF 2013 please follow the link provided here, which amongst other things features a wonderful focus on Indian films in a category titled ‘Beyond Bollywood’. Yet as Hanguk Yeonghwa is concerned with Korean films specifically, here’s a rundown of the ten ‘Korean Films in Competition’.

51+

51+

51+

Director: Jung Yong-taek (정용택)

Synopsis: 51+ explores the lives of musicians who perform in the famous Hongdae area of Seoul, a hotspot for indie bands and emerging talent. Yet as the area has become more popular and big businesses have moved in, aspiring musicians are forced out and must take opportunities where they can.

Cheer Up Mr. Lee (힘내세요, 병헌씨)

Cheer Up Mr. Lee (힘내세요, 병헌씨)

Cheer Up Mr. Lee (힘내세요, 병헌씨)

Director: Lee Byeong-hun (이병헌)

Synopsis: The film follows Byeong-heon, a young aspiring film-maker who endures seemingly constant disappointment as he attempts to establish himself. The film purports to be something of an amalgamation of docu- and mockumentary set in the film world.

Dancing Woman (춤추는 여자)

Dancing Woman (춤추는 여자)

Dancing Woman (춤추는 여자)

Directors: Park Sun-il (박선일), Park Jun-hee (박준희), Ryu Jae-mi (유재미), Jo Chi-young (조지영), Choo Kyeong-yeob (추경엽)

Synopsis: Dancing Woman is an omnibus comprised of a variety of different genres and themes. Apparently, the film employs modern dance techniques during each narrative, and looks to be an interesting experimental piece.

Dear Dolphin (환상속의 그대)

Dear Dolphin (환상속의 그대)

Dear Dolphin (환상속의 그대)

Director: Kang Ji-na (강진아)

Synopsis: Employing a mixture of fantasy and reality in exploring love and death, Dear Dolphin looks set to be one of the more surreal offerings from the festival. The trailer can be viewed below:

December (디셈버)

December (디셈버)

December (디셈버)

Director: Park Jeong-hoon (박정훈)

Synopsis: December (디셈버) is an exploration of relationships and how they shift and change over time. At 73 minutes it’s quite short for a feature, yet as one of the few films focusing primarily on relationships it could be one of the more interesting dramatic films at the festival.

Echo of Dragon (용문)

Echo of Dragon (용문)

Echo of Dragon (용문)

Director: Lee Hyun-jung (이현정)

Synopsis: The description of Echo of Dragon is quite ambiguous, even labelled as a ‘peculiar drama’. With it’s off-the-wall themes – including repressed desires – and ‘twisted’ imagery, the film has the potential to be a boundary-pushing wildcard.

Grandma-Cement Garden (할매-시멘트정원)

Grandma-Cement Garden (할매-시멘트정원)

Grandma-Cement Garden (할매-시멘트정원)

Director: Kim Ji-gon (김지곤)

Synopsis: The human rights orientated Grandma-Cement Garden explores the forced relocation of elderly citizens in Busan. Their trials, lifestyles and memories are portrayed until their inevitable move, and as such could be a success with its political scandal/human interest angle.

Groggy Summer (그로기 썸머)

Groggy Summer (그로기 썸머)

Groggy Summer (그로기 썸머)

Director: Yun Su-ik (윤수익)

Synopsis: Groggy Summer is concerned with the pressures of Korean society, and their impact on a creative wannabe poet. The dissection of culture and pressure on Korean youth is an intriguing and timely premise, and could tap into cultural anxieties.

Lebanon Emotion (레바논 감정)

Lebanon Emotion (레바논 감정)

Lebanon Emotion (레바논 감정)

Director: Jung Young-heon (정영헌)

Synopsis: The description of Lebanon Emotion is incredibly vague, but it appears to be an exploration of a variety of human emotions that occur in different situations. Director Jung has helmed several short films during his career, so it will be interesting to see what he achieves with feature length material.

My Place (마이 플레이스)

My Place (마이 플레이스)

My Place (마이 플레이스)

Director: Park Moon-chil (박문칠)

Synopsis: My Place is an interrogation of the differences between contemporary and traditional Korea, focusing on one particular family unit. The ideological differences between generations isn’t particularly original, yet as single-motherhood forms part of the film it could signal a fresh approach on the subject.

Festival News Jeonju International Film Festival (제14회 전주국제영화제) Korean Festivals 2013