Jeonju Film Festival 2016 – Hot Picks

JIFF 2016

JIFF 2016

As Korea’s primary showcase for independent cinema, the Jeonju International Film Festival always has a surprise or two waiting for cineastes in the film line-up.

Running from April 28th ~ May 7th, and now in its 17th year, JIFF’s priority in debuting new filmmaking talent from the peninsula is simultaneously exciting as well as difficult to pin down emerging talent, making discoveries of potential break out stars even more thrilling to uncover.

While it’s certainly challenging to select possible highlights at such an early stage, there are a few clues and rumours that point to potentially memorable cinematic works.

Here are Hanguk Yeonghwa’s hot picks for JIFF 2016.

Spy Nation (자백) – director Choi Seungho (최승호)

Spy Nation

Spy Nation

Spy Nation is without a doubt one of the most controversial films to appear at JIFF this year. Directed by former professional journalist Choi Seungho, the documentary explores alleged corruption in the upper echelons of the Korean government and the national spy agency, accusations that the mainstream media has largely ignored. Spy Nation has the potential to cause outcry on a similar scale as the Sewol documentary at Busan Film Festival in 2014, and is a must-see for those with an interest in Korean culture and K-cinema.

Seven Years – Journalism without Journalist (7년-그들이 없는 언론) – director Kim Jinhyuk (김진혁)

Seven Years

Seven Years

JIFF’s other highly controversial documentary, Seven Years examines the situations that have led to the firing of 17 journalists since former President Lee Myung-bak’s time in office began. Director Kim Jinhyuk details their fight to expose the activities of big corporations and press censorship in Korea, as well as the future of investigative journalism in the peninsula.

Worst Woman (최악의 여자) – director Kim Jongkwan (김종관)

Worst Woman

Worst Woman

It’s always a gamble to select films from the Korean Competition as they are from first time filmmakers, however Worst Woman stands out for one reason – Han Ye-ri. Han Ye-ri is a highly talented actress as her turn in Sea Fog can attest, and her decision to star in this film as a woman in considerable trouble who befriends a sensitive author is reason enough to check it out.

A Stray Goat (눈발) – director Cho Jaemin (조재민)

Stray Goats

A Stray Goat

One of the Jeonju Project films (the other is below), A Stray Goat has already garnered attention in Korea due to Got7’s Junior (real name Park Jinyoung) starring role. Alongside Ji-woo (Cart, Fists of Legend), the duo portray youngsters who form a deep bond due to the verbal and physical abuse they suffer, in a world that shuns them into the margins of society.

Woo-Joo’s Christmas (우주의 크리스마스) – director Kim Kyunghyung (김경형)

Woo-joo's Christmas

Woo-joo’s Christmas

Director Kim Kyunghyung, known for his wit in hit films My Tutor Friend (2003) and Liar (2004) returns to the big screen with Woo-joo’s Christmas. The story follows Woo-joo and her daughter who move to a small town to open a cafe, where they experience odd coincidences with the women who already live there. As modern cinema is so dominated by male-centered stories, Woo-joo’s Christmas has the potential to be a genuinely refreshing experience.

Old Days (올드 데이즈) – director Han Sun-hee (한선희)

Old Boy

Old Boy

Another documentary makes the list, this time in the form of celebrating arguably the most internationally recognised Korean film of all time – Park Chan-wook’s Old Boy. Director Han Sun-hee compiles footage of the film’s enormous success alongside interviews with director Park, the cast, and crew, as they recount the phenomenal achievements Old Boy amassed and why the film stands the test of time. A must for Korean film fans.

Great Patrioteers (우리 손자 베스트) – director Kim Soohyun (김수현)

Great Patrioteers

Great Patrioteers

The second K-film in the Jeonju Cinema Project is by director Kim Soohyun, the talent behind queer film Life is Peachy (aka Ashamed) and So Cute. He returns with black comedy Great Patrioteers, about a wayward young ‘keyboard warrior’ and a right-wing senior citizen who form an unlikely relationship under odd circumstances.

Curtain Call (커튼콜) – director Ryu Hoon (류훈)

Curtain Call

Curtain Call

Curtain Call is another gamble for this list, as it’s a K-competition film from debut director Ryu Hoon. However the premise, in which a once aspiring director who now makes erotic plays gets a second chance to create something of artistic merit, combined with a cast of reliable and experienced Korean actors, could result in a surprisingly entertaining comedy-drama.

Kai (카이: 거울 호수의 전설) – director Lee Sung-gang (이성강)

Kai

Kai

Korean animation has been making great gains in recent years, and director Lee Sung-gang’s Kai looks set to continue the trend as the stills look absolutely gorgeous. The film follows Kai, a youngster who is tasked with saving his village from Snow Queen Hattan who has covered the area in ice. Parallels to Disney’s Frozen are likely, but the images released indicate that Kai will be a uniquely Korean offering and possibly one of the more popular outdoor screening events.

For more information, please visit the official Jeonju Film Festival website here.

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17th Jeonju International Film Festival (제17회 전주국제영화제) Festival News Korean Film Festivals 2016
The 17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival

PiFan 2013: World Fantastic Cinema

The 17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival

The 17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival

The wonderfully titled ‘World Fantastic Cinema’ section in the upcoming Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan) features a truly eclectic range of films from a host of countries. With horrors, thrillers, dramas, romance and comedies on offer, there is certainly something for everyone in the line-up.

There are seven feature films from Korea within the category, including some mainstream releases as well as a focus on new talent, all of which are profiled below.

Alternatively, if you wish to see the features on the opening/closing films or the Puchon Choice categories, please click on the link(s) to be taken to the relevant page.

The Bluff (허풍)

The Bluff (허풍)

The Bluff (허풍)

Director: Gong Ja-gwan (공자관)

Synopsis: When four friends gather for a reunion, the small talk eventually gives way to more sexual topics of conversation. A game of bluffs begins, as the friends attempt to get to know each other more deeply than ever before.

Go, Stop, Murder (고스톱 살인)

Go, Stop, Murder (고스톱 살인)

Go, Stop, Murder (고스톱 살인)

Director: Kim Joon-kwon (김준권)

Synopsis: Popular game ‘go, stop’ becomes horririfc in this thriller, as a group of players in the countryside start to die one-by-one. Yet when a substitute player is brought in, he begins to think that the game itself is the source of the problem.

Horror Stories 2 (무서운 이야기2)

Horror Stories 2 (무서운 이야기2)

Horror Stories 2 (무서운 이야기2)

Directors: Jeong Beom-sik (정범식), Kim Hwi (김휘), Kim Seong-ho (김성호), Min Gyu-dong (민규동)

Synopsis: The first Horror Stories film opened PiFan 2012, so it’s perhaps only fitting that the sequel features in the line-up as well. Horror Stories 2 follows in the same footsteps as its predecessor, as three short scary tales are framed within another fourth. The Cliff involves two friends who find trouble in a mountain; Pain of Death features horrors set in the countryside; and Escape is concerned with a teacher who must deal with the consequences of some bad advice. See below for the trailer.

How to Use Guys with Secret Tips (남자사용설명서)

How to Use Guys with Secret Tips (남자사용설명서)

How to Use Guys with Secret Tips (남자사용설명서)

Director: Lee Won-seok (이원석)

Synopsis: Released back in February this year, director Lee’s How to Use Guys with Secret Tips garnered some impressive reviews from both Korean and foreign critics alike. In a case of extremely bad timing however, the film failed to set the box office alight as it went toe-to-toe with The Berlin File and Miracle in Room No. 7. The film follows unlucky-in-love Bo-na, a Tv commercial assistant director, who discovers a tape featuring instructions on how to seduce and manipulate men. But can she find true love? See below for the trailer.

Oldmen Never Die (죽지않아)

Oldmen Never Die (죽지않아)

Oldmen Never Die (죽지않아)

Director: Hwang Cheol-min (황철민)

Synopsis: In order to inherit his grandfather’s fortune, Ji-hun became a farmer to impress the old man with his labor skills and determination. Yet bizarrely the old man simply refuses to die, while the arrival of a challenger threatens Ji-hun’s plans.

Southern Superhero Showdown (촌능력전쟁)

Southern Superhero Showdown (촌능력전쟁)

Southern Superhero Showdown (촌능력전쟁)

Director: Ryu Hoon (류훈)

Synopsis: The brilliantly titled Southern Superhero Showdown features an unemployed young man named Ho-bang, who accidently discovers a strange village where everyone has superpowers. The paradox however is that the village is seemingly inescapable.

The Truth (진실)

The Truth (진실)

The Truth (진실)

Director: Seo Seung-man (서승만)

Synopsis: This 93 minute fiction blurs the lines between performance and reality through a story featuring stage actors. When weapons are brandished and characters die on stage, what really is going on?

For the full line-up of films in the PiFan World Fantastic Cinema category, please head over to the PiFan site by clicking on this link.

Festival News Korean Festivals 2013 Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (제17회 부천국제판타스틱영화제)