We are just one week away from the start of the 2nd Korea International Expat Film Festival (KIXFF). Festival director Kevin Lambert took some time from his busy schedule to answer questions about the festival which is going to run from next Friday, September 9th till Sunday, September 11th in Seoul. All movies will feature Korean and English subtitles.
Kevin, what films can the audience expect from the 2nd KIXFF?
We have 39 films, representing more than 15 different languages and more than 15 countries: USA, Great Britain, Spain, Ecuador, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Korea… However I think this year thematically the festival is a bit more exact. We were able to focus more on expat issues and really high quality low-budget films.
Last year the “I” in the KIXFF was for “indie”. This year you changed it to “international”. But still the “X” in the name remains for “expat”. Can you tell us more about your understanding about the term “expat”?
“Expat” is a noun that lots of Koreans are not familiar with. It is short for “expatriate” which means pretty much anyone who is living outside of their home country. For most foreigners this term can be a bit jaded so some of them might not necessarily relate to it. I think it is because in the West there is this concept that expat only applies only to people from 1st World countries, in better situations and it doesn’t include migrant workers, victims of war or refugees, it doesn’t include people who move for work out of necessity or who move because of marriage. But I want to emphasize we want all of these issues to be relevant and present in our expat section – whether it’s issues of Islamic identity, of traveling to study languages, whether it’s about first generation children of migrant families.
Tell us more about the expats in Korea. I know that there is a quite big community of expat filmmakers here.
Yes, there are a lot of foreigners here in Korea making film. A lot of them have been here as long as 10 years sort of slowly nurturing their careers. I remember back in 2010, when I started doing films again, I discovered a small community. Our small community grew and started making amateur films. Those amateur films would continue one after the other till eventually we were producing very high quality work. And now many of those amateurs have gone on to work professionally here and abroad.
Would you say that those people are still kind of isolated from the local film industry?
I think foreigners are making inroads into the Korean film community, but it happens a bit slowly. The biggest hurdle is obviously language. So filmmakers that can bridge that language gap and have talent could make great inroads. Because there is a lot of opportunity out there!
So do you think that coming to the festival would be a good opportunity for networking for those Korea-based expat filmmakers? In terms of being introduced to the local film community?
Yes, absolutely. While coming to KIXFF is not going to send you straight to the Korean industry, the connections you make locally, will allow you to grow as a filmmaker and will put you in the right position when you are ready to make inroads into the Korean film community.
Who do you expect to come this year to the festival considering your experience from 2015?
In some ways there’s going to be the regular cast of characters – mainly foreigners, but I am also expecting to see a lot of new faces: This year, as all the films will be subtitled, I believe there’s going to be a larger outreach to Korean moviegoers. I feel that we did also a really good job of including as many local filmmakers as we could and there are more filmmakers traveling in from abroad for this festival. Of course we are trying also to have representatives of the Korean film industry but still their number is small. But we are a young festival and there is plenty of room to.
Tell us more about the venues and dates.
I am really happy about the venues this year. On the 9th of September we are using EMU Art Cinema – a lovely small intimate cinema near Gwanghwamun, for our opening ceremony. Also the after-party will be downstairs in the same building. And then on the 10th and 11th we have two whole days of both indoor and outdoor screenings at the Deutsche Schule in Hannam-dong. It puts everybody in the same place – there’ll be food trucks and beer, and wine, and lots of fun so it should be a blast.
Screening schedule and online ticket booking on: www.kixff.com
Prices: Opening Night (Ceremony, Local expat shorts screening and after party) 15,000 won at the door / 12,000 online
Regular screenings – 10,000 won at the door / 8,000 won online
All access pass – 100 000 won (for all events).
Additionally Saturday and Sunday there will be free screenings – for more information refer to the official website of the festival.
EMU Art Cinema (Opening Night on September 9th) – 종로구 경희궁1가 길 7, 110-062 서울특별시 – www.emuartspace.com
Deutsche Schule (All events on September 10th and 11th) – 서울특별시 용산구 독서당로 123-6