The 2nd Wildflower Film Awards Announces Nominations

The 2nd Wildflower Film Awards

The 2nd Wildflower Film Awards

The Wildflower Film Awards has unveiled the nominations for its second edition, with the prizes to be bestowed at a ceremony on April 9th in central Seoul.

The organisation is dedicated to celebrating the achievements of Korean independent cinema, as well as films that have a budget of less than 1 billion won. With the vertically-integrated nature of the commercial industry in Korea such films often have an arduous production and a battle to secure distribution, despite the incredible creativity and insight contained within.

The nominations were selected by a panel of film professionals and cineastes, headed by Korean cinema specialist director Darcy Paquet, a figure renowned for his contributions in promoting films from the region. The committee – which Hanguk Yeonghwa is proud to be a part of – chose the finalists from over 60 features and almost 30 documentaries released throughout 2014.

Out of the 21 films nominated July Jung’s A Girl at My Door leads with seven nods, while Lee Su-jin’s Han Gong-ju and Woo Moon-gi’s The King of Jokgu have five. Lee Yong-seung’s 10 MinutesZhang Lu’s Gyeongju, and Hong Sang-soo’s Hill of Freedom have four nominations each, respectively.

In the build-up to the awards ceremony, from April 6th~9th screenings of six of the nominees will occur at Seoul Theater, accompanied by Q&A sessions with the filmmakers involved.

Wildflower Screenings copy

For the full list of nominees, please see below:

Best Director – Narrative Films

Leesong Hee-il, Night Flight

Woo Moon-gi, The King of Jokgu

Zhang Lu, Gyeongju

July Jung, A Girl at My Door

Lee Su-jin, Han Gong-ju

Lee Yong-seung, 10 Minutes

Hong Sangsoo, Hill of Freedom

Best Director – Documentaries

Kelvin Kyung Kun Park, A Dream of Iron

Park Moon-chil, My Place

Park Chan-kyong, Manshin

Lee Sang-ho & Ahn Hae-ryong, The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol

Lee Chang-jae, The Hospice

Jung Yoonsuk, Non-fiction Diary

Hong Jae-hui, My Father’s Emails

Best Actor

Park Hae-il, Gyeongju

Song Sae-byuk, A Girl at My Door

Ahn Jae-hong, The King of Jokgu

Jung Eui-gap, The Dinner

Kase Ryo, Hill of Freedom

Best Actress

Kim Saeron, A Girl at My Door

Moon Sori, Hill of Freedom

Bae Doona, A Girl at My Door

Shin Min-a, Gyeongju

Chun Woo-hee, Han Gong-ju

Best Screenplay

Kim Tae-gon, The King of Jokgu

Kim Da-hyun, 10 Minutes

Lee Su-jin, Han Gong-ju

July Jung, A Girl at My Door

Hong Sangsoo, Hill of Freedom

Best Cinematography

Kim Hyunseok, A Girl at My Door

Kelvin Kyung Kun Park & Stone Kim, A Dream of Iron

Cho Young-jik, Gyeongju

Jee Yune-jeong, Lee Sun-young, Yoo Ji-sun, Manshin

Hong Jae-sik, Han Gong-ju

Best New Director

Park Chan-kyong, Manshin

Woo Moon-gi, The King of Jokgu

Lee Su-jin, Han Gong-ju

Lee Yong-seung, 10 Minutes

July Jung, A Girl at My Door

Best New Actor

Kwak Siyang, Night Flight

Baek Jong-hwan, 10 Minutes

Byun Yo-han, Tinker Ticker

Lee Jeajoon, Night Flight

Choi Woo-shik, Set Me Free

Best New Actress

Kong Ye-ji, Shuttlecock

Kim Su-an, Mad Sad Bad – Picnic

Park Joohee, The Wicked

Lee Yoo-young, Late Spring

Hwang Seung-un, The King of Jokgu

To visit the official Wildflower Film Awards website, please click here.

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Festival News Korean Film Festivals 2015

Korean Film Biz Podcast – The Korean Independent Scene

Korean Cinema Today

Korean Cinema Today

For the March 2015 edition of Korean Cinema Today’s podcast series, I was very fortunate to be invited for a discussion about the Korean independent film industry by the lovely people over at KoBiz.

To listen to our conversation, in which we debate the strengths and frustrations within the indie scene  as well as exciting new talent that has recently emerged, please see below.

Film News

My Love, Don’t Cross That River (님아, 그 강을 건너지 마오) – ★★★☆☆

My Love, Don't Cross That River (님아, 그 강을 건너지 마오)

My Love, Don’t Cross That River (님아, 그 강을 건너지 마오)

At the end of 2014, Korean cinema witnessed an astonishing feat – documentary My Love, Don’t Cross That River (님아, 그 강을 건너지 마오) shattered the record to become the most successful Korean independent film in history. The surprise came largely from the initial humble opening. Premiering at the DMZ Documentary Film Festival in September, the film was finally released on November 27th against Hollywood heavyweights Interstellar, The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 1 and Fury on a paltry 186 screens. Yet the fervent positive word of mouth that quickly surrounded My Love generated interest on such a scale that the documentary acquired a place in the top ten for the entire winter period, culminating in an incredible haul of over 4.7 million admissions and 34.3 million won. Compared to previous record holder Old Partner’s 17.5 million won take, the magnitude of My Love’s success is impossible to ignore.

98 year old Byeong-man and 89 year old Gye-yeol are inseparable even after 76 years of marriage

98 year old Byeong-man and 89 year old Gye-yeol are inseparable even after 76 years of marriage

My Love, Don’t Cross That River is an incredibly charismatic documentary by director Jin Mo-young (진모영), with it’s deceptively simple structure and strong emotional resonance clearly the reasoning behind how the film struck a chord with audiences during it’s impressive theatrical run. Yet while the documentary is sweet, poignant, and in many ways acutely romantic, My Love’s success is also somewhat puzzling.

My Love affectionately depicts the final years of the relationship between 98 year old Jo Byeong-nam and 89 year old Kang Gye-yeol who, after 76 years of marriage, still behave as newlyweds. When the couple go out, they always sport matching hanbok. When chores are undertaken, they jokingly play tricks on each other. When they settle down for the night, they fall asleep holding hands. The elderly couple are unspeakably endearing and are a real joy to watch as they cheerfully continue their countryside existence, despite the hardships old age brings. Their devotion is palpable, displayed through loving glances, body language and cute moments that consistently prove to be heartwarming. Combined with the photogenic backdrop of the picturesque countryside, My Love is visually as well as emotionally stimulating and is quite the moving tale.

The endearing couple play with flowers in Spring

The endearing couple play with flowers in Spring

Amongst such cheerful scenes however is the occasional sense of contrivance, which chiefly appears due to the camerawork. Byeong-man is a loveable rascal and likes to play tricks on his wife, yet as the camera quickly tracks around the couple to capture his pranks, as well as rather obvious editing cuts that capture that action from another angle, it feels as if the couple are being asked to perform for the camera which tends to undermine the purpose of the documentary. Luckily such moments aren’t frequent, and the film quickly corrects itself once the focus shifts back to more natural, authentic situations.

The simplicity of My Love is very appealing as the daily lives and the indomitable spirits of the elderly couple are documented, yet there is also a enormous amount of unexplored potential just begging to be uncovered, which unfortunately never achieves fruition. Aside from two wonderfully illuminating conversations in which Gye-yeol discusses how she and Byeong-man first met and married, as well as the amount of children they conceived, the film doesn’t really delve into their undoubtedly fascinating history to give audiences a sense of who they are. Hints to the tremendous amount of experience the couple have endured are alluded to at various junctures, however director Jin instead chooses to focus on the here and now which results in a romantic, poignant, emotionally resonating tale, albeit one that could have benefited from greater depth.

The indomitable spiritis of Byeong-man and Gye-yeol are heartwarming

The indomitable spiritis of Byeong-man and Gye-yeol are heartwarming

Verdict:

My Love, Don’t Cross That River is a record-breaking triumph for the independent sector as the most successful non-commercial film in Korean cinema history. Director Jin Mo-young’s endearing documentary about the charismatic relationship of elderly couple Byeong-man and Gye-yeol is wonderfully heartwarming and romantic as they act like newlyweds despite their ages. However My Love‘s occasional contrivances and unexplored potential stop audiences from truly knowing the couple, resulting in a simple yet emotionally resonant tale.

★★★☆☆

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