-11 finalists were selected out of 125 submissions
-The progress female directors and films made is outstanding, while their works uncover the true face of Korean society
The 21st JEONJU International Film Festival (JEONJU IFF, Festival Director LEE Joondong) announced the finalists in Korea Competition. Korean Competition is a main competition section for first and second features which were produced after January of 2019.
This year, Korean Competition submissions rose by 20% from last year to 125 films. Through a fair process, 11 finalists were selected for the section. Fiction films Gull (KIM Mijo), Blessedness: Monsters and Specters (HONG Jiyeong), Please Don´t Save Me (JUNG Yeon-kyung), Take Me Home (HAN Jay), DUST-MAN (KIM Nakyung), Mom´s Song (SHIN Dongmin), Black Light (BAE Jongdae), Midsummer Madness (KIM Jongjae), Dispatch (LEE Taegyeom), Homeless (LIM Seunghyeun) and documentary Daldongne 33 Up (Cho Uhn) are the finalists.
Programmer MOON Seok of the JEONJU IFF said, “The 125 films submitted to the JEONJU IFF’s Korean Competition this year show the true face of Korean society today.” He added, “These films take different approaches to uncover diverse serious problems we face in the society, such as severe poverty and suffering in a polarized world, the tyranny of those in power and the weak struggling to oppose, and the discrimination and violence against women.”
One thing that is particularly noticeable is that many of this year’s selection deal with various issues related to women. Programmer MOON Seok said, “Of the 11 titles selected for Korean Competition, 6 films, which are more than half of the total, were directed by female filmmakers. This seems to be a reflection of the fact that Korean society and the film industry are gradually riding the wind of change after the Me Too movement. Even in the films directed by male filmmakers, there were many female protagonists and themes about women which support this analysis.”
With this announcement following the announcement on Korean Competition for Shorts, all Korean shorts and features at this year’s JEONJU IFF have been unveiled. The 11 Korean Competition finalists will be introduced to the audience at the 21st JEONJU International Film Festival which is starting on May 28th, where the jury will review and award the Grand Prize and the Best Acting Prize.
Meanwhile, JEONJU IFF is carefully identifying and tracking the COVID-19 situation, while preparing the safe event. “We are doing our very best to make this year’s festival that audiences and guests, as well as Jeonju citizens can enjoy safely.” Festival Director LEE Joondong said.
A Review of Korean Competition Titles
Many say that independent films are reflections of that society. As such, the 125 films submitted to the Korean Competition section of JEONJU IFF this year show the true face of the current Korean society. These films take different approaches to uncover diverse serious problems we face in the society today, such as severe poverty and suffering in a polarized world, the tyranny of those in power and the weak struggling to oppose, and the discrimination and violence against women.
A particularly prominent trend we saw this year was the focus on various issues surrounding women. Gull is a film that continues the spirit of the Me Too movement. In the movie, a middle-aged woman becomes victim to sexual violence by a close acquaintance. It discloses anachronism while showing that male-centric ideas and absurd prejudice still exist. Dispatch is a movie that deals with female problems within the spectrum of labor. The woman in the film faces a complex entanglement of discrimination against female workers, as well as discrimination against subcontractors. YOO Dain plays the lead role and she makes a strong impression with her confidence. The consciousness of women naturally leads to a discussion on sexual minorities. Take Me Home is a story about a girl who lives with a female couple. The girl lost her mother in an unexpected accident, and she is left to live with her aunt and her partner. The film questions the definition of “family”, while underlining how powerless sexual minorities are in this society. The presence of the child actor KIM Bomin, who showed an amazing performance in Birthday, will also be a highlight.
Social polarization and poverty that threaten many people’s livelihoods are getting worse. Daldongne 33 Up is a monumental documentary by Professor Cho Uhn of Dongguk University, who traced the life of a family for the past 33 years. The documentary records how a family who had to relocate from Sadang-dong to Sanggye-dong due to redevelopment settles in their new home. After introducing this family at the JEONJU IFF 2010 with A Nice Place, this film shows us how the family’s life changed for the last 11 years. It deals with the sociological idea that poverty can be inherited, while the film has rich documentary film values. Homeless is a portrait of a young couple wandering in search of a home while raising a newborn baby. No matter how hard they try, it’s very difficult for them to find a single room. This film is a very convincing portrayal of the lives of young people who are increasingly facing harsh conditions. Black Light tells the story of two families suffering from the aftereffects of a traffic accident that happened one night. The conflict between the two sides pushes them to their limits, while the film smartly highlights that their confrontation is actually an unnecessary fight between two victims. Please Don´t Save Me shows the story of a mother and daughter in a dramatic situation through the eyes of a child. This film reminds us that pure and considerate heart of a child can sometimes bring us comfort.
As always, movies experimenting with new cinematic languages came to JEONJU IFF. Mom’s Song is a work that dissects the theme of family in an intense way, while Blessedness: Monsters and Specters is a film that deals with various social outsiders including sexual minorities in an unconventional film language.
The stories of people who pursue the value of art are always interesting. DUST-MAN and Specters tells the story of a young man living with a group of homeless people finding the possibility to live a new life through art. “Dust art”, which is at the center of this film, gives us visual pleasure. Midsummer Madness is a film about a woman who dreams of becoming a poet. In order to write poetry, she meets different people and she grows and discovers herself. This film’s story seems to understand the true essence of art.
Of the 11 titles selected for Korean Competition, 6 films, which are more than half of the total, were directed by female filmmakers. This seems to be a reflection of the fact that Korean society and the film industry are gradually riding the wind of change after the Me Too movement. Even in the films directed by male filmmakers, there were many female protagonists and themes about women which support this analysis. We sincerely hope that more female directors and filmmakers will continue to make JEONJU IFF shine.
Programmer MOON Seok
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