December (디셈버)

JIFF 2013: Quick Fire Reviews 5

Additional quick-fire reviews from the 14th Jeonju International Film Festival:

December (디셈버)

December (디셈버)

December (디셈버) – 6/10

The big winner at JIFF 2013 scoring the Grand Prize in the Korean Film Competition, December is a charming and raw exploration of the building of relationships. Structured in accordance with the months of the year, director Park Jeong-hoon (박정훈) uses the time frame to convey the burgeoning relationship between a female high school student and a male convenience store clerk, and how small moments are built into something more. The protagonists are highly compelling, particularly as the girl manipulates situations into bringing the two closer together such as buying sanitary towels in order to prove her ‘womanhood’. Yet December is also crucially missing an emotional core that stops empathy from evolving between the characters and the audience, something which greater character development would easily remedy. A compelling and interesting, although emotionally lacking, film.

My Place (마이 플레이스)

My Place (마이 플레이스)

My Place (마이 플레이스) – 9/10

My Place is everything a great documentary should be. The film is a wonderful and heart-filled love letter to family, one that takes an uncompromising look at wounds past and present in the forging of a person’s personality. Perhaps more surprisingly is that such a raw exploration is based on director Park Moon-chil’s (박문칠) own family, which lends further credibility and sincerity. As the documentary unfolds everyone – including director Park – changes and comes to understand each other with greater depth. The inclusion of the cultural, generational and gendered differences that have effected the family is brilliant, yet the real masterstroke comes from places the director’s sister Peace at the center of the film. As a single mum challenging every ideological form in her path, it is her character that makes for such compelling viewing. A must-watch film, recommended.

Remiges

Remiges

Remiges – 8/10

Japanese film Remiges, by writer/director Ozawa Masato, is a deeply poignant examination of youths who suffer from abusive parents. The fragile psychology of central protagonist Sayako is slowly conveyed throughout the course of the film, moving from simply being a bad kid to a complex, abused victim. While the teenager initially appears to be selfish and irresponsible, her actions are the ramifications of years of awful parenting. Director Masato employs non-linear editing in order to portray the torment Sayako suffered as a young child, and is far from contrived as each scene lends further information and empathy to her situation, giving credence to her anti-social behaviour. Symbolism is also used well throughout Remiges, including a parrot horrifically having it’s wings clipped, while Sayako’s plight is mirrored amongst the other characters she comes into contact with. A powerful and insightful film about youth.

Trunk (트렁크)

Trunk (트렁크)

Trunk (트렁크) – 5/10

Trunk is best thought of as a showcase for director Kim Hyeon-cheol’s (김현철) talents rather than a great piece of filmmaking. That’s not to say that it’s a bad film at all, as what is on display is a very competent approach to both the horror and thriller genres. Director Kim employs a host of stereotypical conventions in portraying the story of a woman whose curiosity gets the better of her when she spies an open trunk. To say more would involve spoilers, but tension is constructed well as the story progresses. Howver, the attempt to add an original spin doesn’t really work and comes off as silly, undermining the suspense generated prior. Trunk is a competent showcase, and it will be interesting to see what director Kim does next.

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Festival News Jeonju International Film Festival (제14회 전주국제영화제) Korean Festivals 2013
JIFF 2013

JIFF 2013: Korean Short Film Competition – Part 2

JIFF 2013

JIFF 2013

In part 1 of the examination of the 14th Jeonju Film Festival’s Korean Short Film Competition, 10 of the shorts were profiled and discussed. There are an interesting range of shorts in competition this year, including some animated entries and some experimental filmmaking, although for most there appears to be a real social-realist heart at the core of most of the films, particularly in regards to youth. Contemporary issues including teenage pregnancy, young runaways, extreme shyness, disillusioned youth, and the political impact on young minds are prominent issues at this year’s festival, and it’s really interesting to see such a strong devotion to youth issues.

This second part of the feature on the Short Film Competition explores the final 10 shorts within the category. As with the first part, youth issues seem to be the primary focus alongside more experimental fare and looks to be a very interesting lineup.

No More No Less (더도 말고 덜도 말고)

No More No Less (더도 말고 덜도 말고)

No More No Less (더도 말고 덜도 말고)

Director: Lim Oh-jeong (임오정)

Synopsis: The film explores the lives of teenage girls in contemporary Korea through the theft of an ipod, which brings to light issues of trust, jealousy, and companionship. The highly competitive and stressful life of Korean high school girls is potent material, and this film could shine a new perspective on a timely subject.

Phase (상)

Phase (상)

Phase (상)

Director: Oh Min-wook (오민욱)

Synopsis: Another experimental addition to the lineup, Phase is concerned with ‘images that mutate’ by employing abstract images, footage from historical events, and phrases and mottos. The images that are circulating are quite attractive, and it will be interesting to see how director Oh uses them.

Road Movie (로드 무비)

Road Movie (로드 무비)

Road Movie (로드 무비)

Director: Jung Nam (정남)

Synopsis: Experimental film Road Movie ‘portrays the existential base of film’ by utilising cinematic conventions in exploring the medium. Light, shadow and motion are used in conjunction with editing techniques as the film moves along a course.

Sisibibi (시시비비)

Sisibibi (시시비비)

Sisibibi (시시비비)

Director: Jung Jee-hyung (정지형)

Synopsis: Sisibibi explores the notion of contemporary masculinity through two drunk central protagonists. Their discussion about what defines masculinity and what women are looking for, results into a competition. Contemporary Korean masculinity is complicated to say the least, so this could highlight some interesting issues.

Sweet Temptation (잘 먹고 잘 사는 법)

Sweet Temptation (잘 먹고 잘 사는 법)

Sweet Temptation (잘 먹고 잘 사는 법)

Director: Jeong Han-Jin (정한진)

Synopsis: This short has an intriguing premise, as a young boy who has only had a diet consisting of natural foods is suddenly introduced to chocolate. Themes of parental trust and ‘blind faith’ are explored as the boy becomes open to new possibilities. Symbolic and timely material due to the generation gap.

The Sound of Rain (빗소리)

The Sound of Rain (빗소리)

The Sound of Rain (빗소리)

Director: Kim Jin-hee (김진희)

Synopsis: Exploring the fragility and innocence of the very young, The Sound of Rain depicts the anxieties of a kindergarten girl who has gone to school without an umbrella on a rainy day. Parental responsibilities and maternal abandonment are key themes within the film, and emphasize a growing social problem.

The Wish (주희)

The Wish (주희)

The Wish (주희)

Director: Huh Jung (허정)

Synopsis: Another entry highlighting the social problems of teenage girls, The Wish explores the notion of popularity according to wealth in a middle school. When a supernatural ritual becomes fashionable at the school, jealousies and rivalries are examined.

Three Stories About Depth (깊이에의 강요)

Three Stories About Depth (깊이에의 강요)

Three Stories About Depth (깊이에의 강요)

Director: Choi Seung-chul (최승철)

Synopsis: This 9 minute short is divided into 3 ‘episodes’ that explore the cinematic techniques involving depth. Director Choi employs the theme of depth in a variety of ways, using the camera to penetrate different realms of distance, and could be potentially illuminating.

Trunk (트렁크)

Trunk (트렁크)

Trunk (트렁크)

Director: Kim Hyeon-cheol (김현철)

Synopsis: One of the more traditional genre entries, Trunk appear to be a short thriller that involves a woman too curious for her own good. When she takes a peek inside a car trunk that has been left open, there are ramifications to be had. It will be interesting to see if director Kim can fulfill the tension that the synopsis suggests.

Two Gentlemen (두 신사)

Two Gentlemen (두 신사)

Two Gentlemen (두 신사)

Director: Park Jae-ok (박재옥)

Synopsis: Only the second animated entry this year, director Park’s Two Gentleman is quite a departure from the distinctly Korean issues explored by his peers. The film examines the snobbish nature of two French art critics as they quarrel over a painting, uses satire to do so.

Festival News Jeonju International Film Festival (제14회 전주국제영화제) Korean Festivals 2013