BRA (브라자)

WFFIS 2013: Quick Fire Reviews 3

The quick-fire reviews featured here are from the Asian Short Film and Video Competition (아시아 단편경선):

BRA (브라자)

BRA (브라자)

BRA (브라자) – 7/10

Director Won Jan-di’s (원잔디) coming-of-age drama is a lovely and compelling story about a young girl called Da-young on the verge of entering adolescence  The tale encapsulates a wide spectrum of human emotion as Da-hyung desires to be seen as a woman by the boy she likes, and as such focuses on breasts as the sign of womanhood. As Da-young steals her grandmother’s bra and attempts to create breasts of her own, the film becomes a heart-warming tale of innocence with sweet moments of genuine comedy and drama. Director Won also seeks to create a comparison between Da-young and her grandmother, who is going through similar trials of her own. Yet as the grandmother’s story isn’t as developed as Da-young’s it serves to detract from the main story, although their discussion about entering womanhood is poignant and insightful. Certainly one of the better short films in the competition.

Chunjung (춘정)

Chunjung (춘정)

Chunjung (춘정) – 4/10

To be honest, it’s quite difficult to accurately review Chunjung as the English subtitles were so awful that the story was difficult to follow. Director Lee Mi-rang’s (이미랑) entry follows Chinese immigrant Chunjung, who joins an agency which cons elderly Korean people into parting with their money. It’s illegal of course, yet she forms relationships with the other women working there. It’s an odd film, as Chunjung appears to be mentally ill as well as illiterate, while the women at the agency always seem to talk about finding a man. Ultimately the film does very little to explore either the immigrant experience or Chunjung as a character, although hints of such may have been missed due to the terrible subtitles.

Fitting Room (피팅룸)

Fitting Room (피팅룸)

Fitting Room (피팅룸) – 4/10

Fitting Room is concerned with a mother who wishes to have a life of freedom, but can’t due to her young daughter. It is extremely difficult to empathise with the mother as she treats her daughter terribly throughout, never talking to her or attempting to understand the youngster. The turning point comes when the mother hides the sleeping girl in a closet in order to have sex with her boyfriend, which seems to be the catalyst for wishing to be a better mum. Director Oh Jung-mi (오정미) is clearly attempting to explore the evolving relationship between a bad single mother and her innocent daughter, but there is little depth due to the lack of dialogue and restriction within an apartment.

Mija (미자)

Mija (미자)

Mija (미자) – 6/10

Director Jeon Hyo-jeong’s (전효정) examination of lonely middle-aged woman Mija is an insightful, poignant, and often comedic short film. Her secret lover is a younger Nepalese man – a feature which sadly instigated gasps amongst the audience – and Mija decides to purchase tickets for them both to visit his homeland. The real power of the film lies in Mija’s desire to overcome her jealousies and her age through cosmetics and other methods, yet is ultimately unable to do so. The film is a poignant and moving depiction of a single middle-aged woman who wishes to change her life, with just enough comedy to keep the narrative from becoming bleak.

Mira's Will (미라의 의지)

Mira’s Will (미라의 의지)

Mira’s Will (미라의 의지) – 5/10

One of the more straightforward comedy offerings, Mira’s Will tells the story of a lonely young woman who has yet to experience her first kiss. The film is often more mildly amusing rather than funny, although the advice given by a friend to enhance her sex appeal – not to wear underwear on a date – adds some laughs. Director Lee Eun-jeong’s (이은정) entry is entertaining, especially witnessing Mira take control of her sexuality in order to seduce a man, but suffers as she is so desperate she’s willing to accept anyone. The film also doesn’t end well as wearing no panties on a date leads to a predictable outcome. However it is refreshing to see a female character take control of her sexuality – and to desire sex – without any connotations of shame, and as such is an enjoyable tale.

The Room of Drink (살롱 드 보아)

The Room of Drink (살롱 드 보아)

The Room of Drink (살롱 드 보아) – 3/10

The Room of Drink is an exploration of the way in which women are exploited in hostess bars by wealthy men. The premise is full of potential, as the hostess bar culture in Korea highlights one of the more accepted forms of misogyny within the country. However the film fails to scratch any of the surfaces that are so ripe for examination. When a pretty, young office worker is asked to drop by such a bar to provide documents for her boss, she is ushered into acting like a hostess, pouring drinks for her boss’ companion and allowing him to touch her. The unease is palpable, although never moves into the realm of tension, while the glares passed between the office worker and the real hostess convey an odd mix of jealousy and judgement that are not really explored. A missed opportunity by director Sohn Hae-sook (손해숙).

Advertisements
Festival News International Women's Film Festival in Seoul (서울국제여성영화제) Korean Festivals 2013 Reviews
Actress Gong Hyo-jin is wonderfully charismatic as Yeong-hee

WFFIS 2013: Quick Fire Reviews 1

The first in a series of quick-fire reviews from the 15th Seoul Women’s Film Festival, 2013:

You Are More Than Beautiful (그녀의 연기)

You Are More Than Beautiful (그녀의 연기)

You Are More Than Beautiful (그녀의 연기) – 8/10

Director Kim Tae-yong’s (김태용) You Are More Than Beautiful is a wonderfully charismatic short film, due wholly to the performance of Gong Hyo-jin (공효진). The story involves Jeju Islander – and singleton – Cheol-su, who returns to the island upon hearing that his elderly father is seriously ill. To ease his father’s suffering Cheol-su hires actress Young-hee (Gong) to play the role of his fiancee, so that he may leave this world without worrying about his son. While it certainly sounds like weighty subject matter, Gong’s charisma and grace elevate the film into a heartfelt comedy-drama as her playful personality turns all forms of negativity into keen optimism. Indeed, her rendition of traditional Korean opera is poignantly moving and uplifting, emphasising her caliber as an actress.  As one of the few directors in contemporary Korea cinema featuring women in prominent roles, Kim Tae-yong does incredibly well in simply allowing Gong to act, while his vision captures the Jeju scenery beautifully. A lovely short film.

My Place (마이 플레이스)

My Place (마이 플레이스)

My Place (마이 플레이스) – 9/10

Having already seen My Place at the Jeonju International Film Festival, could director Park Moon-chil’s (박문칠) documentary have the same resonance on a repeated viewing? Absolutely. Experiencing director Park’s evolving perspective on his family is consistently compelling and entertaining, as he changes from a man worried about his sister’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy to a man who comes to admire her strength of character. The personal family trauma that he places on screen is sincere and poignant, and director Park never shies away from the more difficult – and defining – periods from their history. He balances the representation of each family member incredibly well, simultaneously caring yet objective, allowing for each person to openly convey their psychology. An excellent documentary about family hardship and the desire to set things right.

Pluto (명왕성)

Pluto (명왕성)

Pluto (명왕성) – 9/10

Pluto is, quite simply, an excellent film. Director Shin Su-won’s (신수원) second feature length film is a brilliant exploration of the enormous pressure students experience within the Korean education system, and how the competitive nature to join a prestigious university forges a psychologically unbalanced generation. Director Shin’s vision shines throughout with some truly wonderful shots and compositions, articulating the fragile mental states of the protagonists by featuring superb use of the mise-en-scene. Some critics took issue with manner in which the film changes tone from high school drama to cop thriller, yet while the point is valid the evolving aesthetics and conventions do nothing to dampen the power of the story. In fact in doing so, the potency of the drama is elevated as adult institutions are held accountable, while the inclusion of thriller conventions should guarantee a more mainstream appeal. A powerful drama with an important social message, Pluto is certainly one of the best films of the year and it will very interesting to see audience reaction when it’s released nationwide in July.

Festival News International Women's Film Festival in Seoul (서울국제여성영화제) Korean Festivals 2013 Reviews
The 15th International Women's Film Festival in Seoul

WFFIS 2013: Asian Short Film and Video Competition

The 15th International Women's Film Festival in Seoul

The 15th International Women’s Film Festival in Seoul

With so many exciting films centered around the representation of women in cinema and women’s issues, the International Women’s Film Festival in Seoul is gearing up to be a strong event for its 15th installment. Previously, the Korean offerings that have been explored here at Hanguk Yeonghwa emphasise the many and varied roles occupied by women in cinema, in New CurrentsThe Coming of Age in Asian Women Filmmaking and Violence Against Women, and Actress, Muse With A Movie Camera and Queer Rainbow: Queer x Feminism. Each of these categories serve to place a spotlight on the talented female filmmakers that exist within Korea, and their explorations of the great many contemporary challenges they face.

However every great film festival needs a competition, and WFFIS is no different. Here the Korean entries in the Asian Short Film and Video Competition are profiled, with an incredibly broad range of topics featured. From adolescent tales of puberty to desiring a first kiss, from a secret relationship with a foreigner to feminist figures, the short film competition has something strikes a chord with just about every age group.

Asian Short Film and Video Competition

The Bathhouse (목욕탕)

The Bathhouse (목욕탕)

The Bathhouse (목욕탕)

Director: Kim Ji-su (김지수)

Synopsis: This 7 minute animated film explores the sauna culture within Korea, where people soak themselves in pools of different temperatures. The style conveys something of a celebration of women’s bodies.

Beast Is My Middle Name (맹수는 나의 것)

Beast Is My Middle Name (맹수는 나의 것)

Beast Is My Middle Name (맹수는 나의 것)

Director: Kim Bo-ra (김보라)

Synopsis: Female sexuality is explored in this drama as student Ji-ran develops a fascination for Yu-jin’s thighs, and thoughts and fantasies begin to emerge.

BRA (브라자)

BRA (브라자)

BRA (브라자)

Director: Won Jan-di (원잔디)

Synopsis: BRA follows a young girl called Da-young, whose love for a man across the street leads her to desiring a bra like her friend wears. But will it provide confidence?

Chunjung (춘정)

Chunjung (춘정)

Chunjung (춘정)

Director: Lee Mi-rang (이미랑)

Synopsis: Drama Chunjung explores the life of a woman living in contemporary Korea, and her desire to create a home. Her work and relationships are also featured.

The Confession (못 다한 이야기)

The Confession (못 다한 이야기)

The Confession (못 다한 이야기)

Director: Kim Bo-mi (김보미)

Synopsis: This documentary is a heartfelt entry as the narrator explores the pain and loneliness of her separation from her ex-boyfriend.

Dictee-An Homage to Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (딕테-차학경 오마주)

Dictee-An Homage to Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (딕테-차학경 오마주)

Dictee-An Homage to Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (딕테-차학경 오마주)

Director: Mi-young (미영)

Synopsis: Murdered Korean-American artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s life is the subject of this film, as her origins from the Korean War to her immigration to San Francisco to her death.

Fitting Room (피팅룸)

Fitting Room (피팅룸)

Fitting Room (피팅룸)

Director: Oh Jung-mi (오정미)

Synopsis: This 9 minute short portrays the relationship between a mother and her young daughter, how they argue and compromise, and bond through preparation.

Iron Age (철의 시대)

Iron Age (철의 시대)

Iron Age (철의 시대)

Director: Jung Ji-yoon (정지윤)

Synopsis: Documentary Iron Age appears quite symbolic in nature as the film depicts a woman who has a hole in her heart. The film examines the nature of her personality.

Island in Island: More Oceans Inside, and More Islands Inside (섬 안의 섬, 그 안의 더 많은 바다, 그리고 그 안의 더 많은 섬들)

Island in Island: More Oceans Inside, and More Islands Inside (섬 안의 섬, 그 안의 더 많은 바다, 그리고 그 안의 더 많은 섬들)

Island in Island: More Oceans Inside, and More Islands Inside (섬 안의 섬, 그 안의 더 많은 바다, 그리고 그 안의 더 많은 섬들)

Director: Kim Ji-yeong (김지영)

Synopsis: This experimental drama explores the concept of memory.

Mija (미자)

Mija (미자)

Mija (미자)

Director: Jeon Hyo-jeong (전효정)

Synopsis: A secret love with a foreign man is the subject of this drama, as a middle aged woman attempts to go abroad with her lover but encounters problems.

Mira's Will (미라의 의지)

Mira’s Will (미라의 의지)

Mira’s Will (미라의 의지)

Director: Lee Eun-jeong (이은정)

Synopsis: A young woman named Mira decides to work on her sex appeal in order to finally succeed in getting her first kiss, but she takes things a little far.

The Room of Drink (살롱 드 보아)

The Room of Drink (살롱 드 보아)

The Room of Drink (살롱 드 보아)

Director: Sohn Hae-sook (손해숙)

Synopsis: Office worker Joo-hyun is forced to visit a hostess bar when her boss asks for documents, which forces her into an uncomfortable situation.

Sewing Woman (바느질 하는 여자)

Sewing Woman (바느질 하는 여자)

Sewing Woman (바느질 하는 여자)

Director: Woo Jin (우진)

Synopsis: This 3 minute animated short is about a woman who never stops sewing. The aesthetics and stylisation look very interesting.

Festival News International Women's Film Festival in Seoul (서울국제여성영화제) Korean Festivals 2013
The 15th International Women's Film Festival in Seoul

WFFIS 2013: Coming of Age and Violence Against Women

The 15th International Women's Film Festival in Seoul

The 15th International Women’s Film Festival in Seoul

In the previous feature on the upcoming 15th Women’s Film Festival in Seoul, the films in the ‘New Currents’ category were discussed and profiled. The films display the festival’s desire to tackle a range of issues related to women from documentaries about pivotal figures, animations involving sexual relations, and more traditional dramatic fare concerning relationships and peer/societal pressure.

Yet other areas of the program also emphasize WFFIS’s ability to give women filmmakers a platform in which to share their perspective on society, and to ‘see the world through women’s eyes.’ In this article two such categories are covered. The ‘Asian Spectrum: The Coming of Age in Asian Women Filmmaking’ focuses on young female visionaries who portray the issues young Asian women face. Meanwhile, ‘Polemics: The Constellation of the Violence Against Women’ explores the different forms of pressure and assaults that women are threatened with and/or experience, and examinations the structures of (gendered) power so often inherent in such debates.

Asian Spectrum: The Coming of Age in Asian Women Filmmaking

Give Me Back My Cat (고양이를 돌려줘)

Give Me Back My Cat (고양이를 돌려줘)

Give Me Back My Cat (고양이를 돌려줘)

Director: Jung Jae-eun (정재은)

Synopsis: When a couple are forced to give their cat Kuma up for adoption,  they are devastated. Luckily their friend is Kuma’s new owner, yet when she refuses to hand the feline back drama ensues.

Polemics: The Constellation of the Violence Against Women

Bad Scene (배드신)

Bad Scene (배드신)

Bad Scene (배드신)

Director: Jeon Go-woon (전고운)

Synopsis: The 18 minute short depicts an unknown actress who lands a role in a film. The catch is that a bed scene is required, and the aspiring performer is conflicted over playing the part well.

Deviation (도착)

Deviation (도착)

Deviation (도착)

Director: Lee Min-beh (이민배)

Synopsis: On the subway Su-jin overhears a celebrity scandal involving a sex-tape. Yet she is also surprised to see her boyfriend being arrested and decides to follow him.

My, No Mercy Home (잔인한 나의, 홈)

My, No Mercy Home (잔인한 나의, 홈)

My, No Mercy Home (잔인한 나의, 홈)

Director: Aori (아오리)

Synopsis: The documentary explores the life of a woman who was sexually abused by her father. When no-one believed her, she ran away and sued him to spare her siblings, with shocking results.

Festival News International Women's Film Festival in Seoul (서울국제여성영화제) Korean Festivals 2013