The Edinburgh Film Festival will be showing four Korean films this year. The choice of three of the four comes as no surprise.
- No western film festival with Korean content is complete without a recent Kim Ki-duk film, and this time round it’s Breath (숨).
- Everyone wants to know how Park Chan-wook can follow his vengeance trilogy, so the quirky I’m a Cyborg (싸이보그지만 괜찮아) is a natural choice
- After A Good Lawyer’s Wife (바람난 가족) and President’s Last Bang (그때 그사람들), any film by Im Sang-soo deserves attention. And when the film is an adaptation of a novel by Hwang Sok-yong and deals with the Kwangju massacre, The Old Garden (오래된 정원) is certainly a candidate for any serious film festival
The only other obvious candidate for a festival is Secret Sunshine. Hopefully that will make its way over to the UK soon.
So here’s the unusual choice. So unusual, in fact, that it hasn’t got an entry in Hancinema.net. It’s debut film by Roh Gyeong-tae (right) called The Last Dining Table (마지막 밥상). It’s been doing the rounds of the film festivals since last year but sadly is probably never likely to hit the big time: even those who praise the film didn’t enjoy it as an experience. This is from an Argentinian viewer who who gave the film 9 out of 10 at IMDB:
Do not expect to have fun, not even to enjoy it. You will begin to enjoy what you’ve just seen when you are out of the theater thinking of it.
And the film synopsis to be found at the production company website sounds honest enough:
In the film, several worlds exist such as a world where the main characters live, a world where the main characters look at, a world where the main characters dream, and a world where the other people live. These several worlds can not be mingled like water and oil, but they occupy a space in this real society, breathe, exist, and leave their traces. In short, the film is a story of two low class families. The plot develops by following the story lines of Father and Son of one family who live in the slum area of Seoul, and Mother, Grandmother, and Daughter of another family who live in the rural area near Seoul.
So don’t expect to have a great time, but it looks like one to experience. Variety sums it up thus:
There’s not much in contemporary cinema to compare with “The Last Dining Table,” a superbly composed tableau of forgotten and discarded people living on the outskirts of Seoul. With little dialogue and virtually no camera movement, this existential poem by debut helmer Roh Gyeong-tae uses stillness and a hypnotic soundscape to reflect profoundly, and ultimately with hope, on the hardships of those who are detached from the mainstream. An extremely difficult commercial road lies ahead, but fest programmers everywhere should give audiences an opportunity to witness this experimental gem.