Mozart Town at the KCC

by Philip Gowman on 3 September, 2012

in Event Notices, Jeon Kyu-hwan, KCC Film Club

September’s director at the KCC is Jeon Kyu-hwan. Not a well-known director in this country, but I’m rather looking forward to these particular screenings.

Mozart Town (모차르트 타운, 2008)

Mozart Town poster7pm, 6th Sept 2012

Director: Jeon Kyu-hwan
Cast: Gbato Blaise, Yoo-rang Joo and Seong-tae Oh
Genre: Drama
Certificate: 18 (South Korea). Nobody under the age of 18 can be admitted this film
Running Time: 90 min
Venue: The Korean Cultural Centre UK, Grand Buildings 1-3 Strand, London WC2N 5BW
RSVP: Booking is required, please visit KCCUK Website

The Film

South Korean writer-director Jeon Kyu-hwan’s 2008 debut was the first in his Town Trilogy, which includes Dance Town and Animal Town (also appearing in SDFF 34) and explores the themes of urban alienation in the modern era. Mozart Town introduces us to Sara, a concert pianist visiting Seoul from Europe. She sees the city through the eyes of a tourist—everything is fresh, and as she records her travels in her journal, she feels content.

Mozart Town still

Parallel to this run the very different lives of the other characters, who are consumed by the misery they experience in the day-to-day drudgery of city life. Ji-won runs a newspaper stand and, as a hobby, photographs passersby; her husband has abandoned her and she finds more meaning in detached photographs than in real life. Etoo and Ayo are illegal immigrants from Africa; separated from their family and unable to make ends meet working at a laundry, they struggle in desperation….

The director

At first glance it may appear that Jeon Kyu Hwan at the age of 43 made his directorial debut comparatively late. However, when one watches his films one immediately sees the work of a storyteller whose pieces are defined by the raw emotions and experiences that can only come with a life of observation. Having achieved recognition and critical acclaim across the globe for his ‘Town Trilogy’ it can be said that Director Jeon is better known abroad than he is at home; however this is changing somewhat as his canon of work expands and his work becomes more accessible. Director Jeon’s films have been said to focus upon the lives the underdog, the minority, those in society whose lack of economic control over their lives opens them to abuse from all quarters.

Jeon Kyu-hwan

In this sense Director Jeon’s films cover subjects that are challenging to say the least; however each is enveloped in a rich visual imagery that creates a body of work that remains with the viewer for some time. Incredibly popular on the festival circuit Director Jeon has shown his films at over 30 Festivals across the globe. In this time he has also become a champion for the independent filmmaker, promoting the awareness of independent film and the talent it produces.

We start our Director Jeon mini-season with his popular debut feature ‘Mozart Town’ (2008) in what became the initial instalment of a trilogy that focuses upon urban loneliness and the damage that isolation can bring. The three Town films are each presentations of the soullessness of the metropolis. With their insightful observations and remote camera techniques the trilogy shows how decidedly distant the characters have become. In ‘Mozart town’ it is the city of Seoul that is the main character. Filmed with little in the way of funding, it was shot in 15 days using amateur actors. The characters of ‘Mozart Town’ each find themselves in Seoul and we see a collection of sad people who are seeking their own place in the world. Ji-won runs a newspaper-stand and secretly collects images of those passing by, Eto and Ayo are illegal immigrants, we see a pianist from Slovakia and Deok-sang who forsakes his own ambitions to drive a tourist bus for his father.

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