Independent films are like mirrors that reflect society. This year, the 125 films submitted to the Korean Competition Section at the JEONJU International Film Festival reveal the true nature of present Korean society. These films dealt with serious problems we are facing such as extreme poverty and suffering, the tyranny of topdogs and conflict between underdogs, and discrimination and violence against women in this polarized world.
The highlight of this year is the various issues toward women. Gull is a film that captures the spirit of Me Too movement. Through the story of a middle-aged woman, who has been sexually abused by her acquaintance, it poignantly follows the process of a marginalized being living under pressure to eventually protecting her own rights. Dispatch; I Don’t Fire Myself looks into women’s issues through the spectrum of labor. It captures the woman’s dignified figure despite the discrimination from subcontractors and discrimination against women. Take Me Home discovers women in the subject of LGBTQ and family. A girl who lost her mother from an accident starts living with her aunt and her partner. Through this process, she questions the nature of family. It also sheds light on the limited living conditions of sexual minorities. Blessedness: Monsters and Specters is another film that actively defends sexual minorities. Somewhat difficult but using challenging cinematic language, this is a queer film with new sensibility where melodramatic elements or complaints against society do not exist.
Several films address issues on social polarization and poverty which are getting worse and worse. Daldongne 33 Up is a monumental documentary by Dongguk University professor CHO Uhn who traced the life of a family for the past 33 years. This documentary consistently traces a family that resettles in Sanggye-dong after being evicted from Sadang-dong redevelopment project and shows how their lives changed since her previous docmenatary A Nice Place (2009). Homeless illustrates the struggles of a young couple raising a newborn desperately looking for home. It depicts the young couple that cannot even find a room to stay despite their utmost efforts with warm perspective. Black Light tells the story of two families suffering from the aftereffects of an accident that took place one night. It convincingly shows how two women who have continuously reached their breaking point finally realizes that the source of the pain is not each other. Please Don’t Save Me is a film that tells the story of a mother and daughter in extreme conditions due to economic poverty from the perspective of a child. It reminds us that a pure heart like a child can sometimes be a real comfort.
Mom’s Song tells the story of a family through frivolous traces of life. A new attempt of featuring the director’s real mother oddly brings the film to life. DUST-MAN depicts the process of how a young man living with a group of homeless people ends up getting new life opportunities through art. “Dust drawings” that summarizes the subject of the film also provide visual pleasure. Midsummer Madness portrays the daily life of a woman who dreams of becoming a poet. Watching her grow little by little as she meets a variety of people and experiences all kinds of episodes on her path of writing poems is quite entertaining.
Programmer MOON Seok
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