The man goes fishing in the ethereal atmosphere created by the iphone 4

Night Fishing (파란만장) – ★★★★★

Night Fishing (파란만장)

Night Fishing (파란만장)

Night Fishing (파란만장) cannot help but come with high expectations. It was directed by not one but two renowned auteurs, Park Chan-wook (박찬욱) and Park Chan-kyong (박찬경); at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival it won the coveted Golden Bear award for best short film; and it was filmed entirely using an iphone 4, adding curiosity to intrigue. And, even better, it doesn’t disappoint.

Beginning in a rather abstract/art house style, including a bizarre band playing on a country road, the camera eventually focuses on an unnamed man (Oh Kwang-rok 오광록) walking through a field. The man reaches a riverside, and begins to set up his fishing equipment, his camp site, and waits for the fish to bite. The style in which these scenes are framed and shot are surreal and ethereal, and combined with the ‘grainy’ low-quality texture of the camera, offer an otherworldly viewing experience. This is even more prevalent as night descends, with the low-level lighting adding a tense, Blair Witch-esque eerie atmosphere as the man continues to fish.

The man goes fishing in the ethereal atmosphere created by the iphone 4

The man goes fishing in the ethereal atmosphere created by the iphone 4

As the night continues, the man is joined by a strange woman (Lee Jeong-hyeon 이정현) who may or may not have supernatural abilities, but her behaviour certainly does nothing to halt the sense of unease. Directors Park Chan-wook and Park Chan-kyong expand the mystery through exploring traditional Korea shamanism and how it provides hope and despair in equal measure. Their use of the iphone camera is incredibly sophisticated, employing a variety of filters and colours for different environments that continually infuse tension, bewilderment and shock.

At night, a bizarre and mysterious woman appears

At night, a bizarre and mysterious woman appears

Night Fishing is  an incredible piece of filmmaking, even more so considering the technology and camera utilised. Equal parts thrilling, mysterious and intriguing, this short film of 33 minutes or so captures more intensity than productions 3 times its length. It also manages to tell a complete narrative story, while still leaving audiences with enough doubts and possibilities for it to lack closure. The cast are wonderful in their roles despite the short screen time, giving believable performances. Night Fishing is a premier example of taking a short, simple story and constructing a framework of mystery and intrigue around it, one that is wholly entertaining and fascinating to watch.

★★★★★

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Jeon Chan-il (전찬일) introduces Dance Town (댄스 타운)

LKFF Day 3 – Mise-en-scene 1, Detective K (조선명탐정: 각시투구꽃의 비밀) and Dance Town (댄스 타운)

Protestors stand up to police at Trafalgar Square

Protestors stand up to police at Trafalgar Square

Day 3 of the London Korean Film Festival was based solely at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), with a backdrop of anti-capitalist protests through the Trafalgar Square and the Westminster area. Except for the film screenings themselves, it was a fairly uneventful day.

First was a showing entitled ‘Mise-en-scene’, which comprised of short films including Park Chan-kyong‘s (박찬경) and Park Chan-wook‘s (박찬욱) Night Fishing (파란만장), Negligence of Duty (Social Service Agent), PromiseHideout and City. 

Detective K (조선명탐정: 각시투구꽃의 비밀) was the second screening, a comedy set during the Joseon Dynasty about corrupt government officials.

Jeon Chan-il (전찬일) introduces Dance Town (댄스 타운)

Jeon Chan-il (전찬일) introduces Dance Town (댄스 타운)

Lastly was festival favorite Dance Town (댄스 타운), but before it began, film critic and festival programmer Jeon Chan-il (전찬일) introduced the film. He informed the audience that Dance Town was the third film in a trilogy, preceded by Mozart Town (모차르트 타운, 2008) and Animal Town (애니멀 타운, 2009). The films examine city life in a low-budget, social realist aesthetic for which director Jeon Kyu-hwan (전규환) has become renowned. Dance Town is something of a festival darling, as the film has been invited to several notable international festivals and received plenty of awards and critical acclaim. Jeon Chan-il explained that he and the director are friends, and that Jeon Kyu-hwan wishes for audiences to form opinions of Dance Town in a non-political fashion, and to focus on the characters and situations that arise. This is/was easier said than done, as the film is extremely critical in its examination of the society/culture in Seoul and the governmental treatment of refugees.

Festival News Festivals 2011