Released by KOFIC / Korean Academy of Film Arts, this DVD was one I was very curious and keen to see. Consisting of 10 short films made by directors while studying at the Academy, the shorts range between 11 and 30 minutes long. I was keen to get this because Bong Joon-ho was involved in one of the shorts and of the names listed, his was the only one I recognised.
01: Fantasy in Winter (Kim So-yong)
I don’t think this was the wisest of shorts to start the DVD with to be honest. It’s confusing, abstract and actually quite bizarre. If anyone who studied film in great depth can enlighten me to its point I’d be keen to listen.
02: Winter Story (Park Ki-yong)
A downbeat piece about a man who has returned after a year’s absence to find many things have changed. Its quite nice, atmospheric, but the picture quality is quite bad in places – though whether that is intentional or not it’s a little difficult to tell. Has a nice angle on using soju and cigarettes as how people relate to each other.
Daum has little information on him except that he directed Camels (2003) Motel Cactus (1997) and ‘이공’ in 2003.
03: Serious Battle (Bu Sung-chul) (2001)
Shot in black and white, it tells the story of an army recruit sent to the medical ward during which time a manhunt begins for some North Koreans. Its well thought out, set almost entirely in the medical room, the outside world only intruding with the television that reports the battle, the sound of artillery practice and the night entry of an injured man.
From what I managed to glean from Daum, The writer, editor and director Bu Sung-chul is the director of A Star’s Lover, an SBS drama in 2008 which starred Choi Ji-woo and Yoo Ji-tae.
04: From the Midnight to the Dawn (Park Kyung-hee)
A woman takes a taxi home late at night and falls asleep, waking up to realise her driver has taken her off the route home and has other intentions. A little confusing in its portrayal of a sexual assault – that the woman goes from fear to not much of a struggle at his attempt to coerce her into sex. It also feels like it has continuity issues with where the two characters are sitting in the car.
05: Me in the Memory (Shin Dong-il)
A nice short about a man who watches a girl standing on her balcony every evening. The link between them gradually reveals until the last twist in the tale. The director Shin Dong-il is now better known for the films Host and Guest, My Friend and his Wife and Bandhobi. The short was a good project to pick, and shot entirely at night and almost entirely from his point of view within the car he drives.
06: 2001 Imagine (Jang Jun-hwan & Bong Joon-ho)
Written and directed by Jang Jun-hwan, with cinematography by Bong Joon-ho, Imagine 2001 tells the story of a young man who may be, or at least wholehearted believes he is, the reincarnation of John Lennon. A twisted tale of deception and obsession that could so easily happen in real life and probably does. Jang Jun-hwan is the director of Save the Green Planet which is now high on my list of films I must get. [It’s one of my films of the decade – Ed]
07: A Boy’s Poem ( Kang Yi-kwan)
Produced, written, edited and directed by Kang Yi-kwan, whose main film credit is Sagwa (2009) and as assistant director on Memento Mori. A Boy’s Poem is a wonderful short about the nature of guilt and punishment, told from the viewpoint of a young teen whose joyful bike ride down a hill has an abrupt end. The bright sunshine of summer contrasts nicely with the uncomfortable emotions of the main character and the dialogue is minimal, reflecting the inability of children to fully express themselves when dealing with bigger adult emotions.
08: E.L. (Shin Tae-ra)
Shin Tae-ra wrote, directed and edited this piece about Artificial Intelligence and the ability of machines to feel emotion. His first film was Brain Dead, a sci fi that was low budget and not so well known, but Black House and this year My Girlfriend is an Agent show that his ideas and skills appeal to the mainstream audience. Its not the greatest short, the rather clumsy effects detracting from the story.
09: In Dreams (Sung Nam-shik) (2001)
A 12 minute animation set to music about the confusion of a dream and waking from it. It was really nice to see a short animation included in this DVD. Whilst the director seems to have done only one other previous short, it would be good to see more from someone who can engage the viewer with simple characters and design. The lack of dialogue will also appeal to a wider audience!
10: A Child Gathering A Dream (Min Byung-kwan) (1985)
A simple story of a day out of a grandfather and his grandson showing the dreams and selfishness of the young versus the reality and compromise of the adult. The director doesn’t seem to have done much else at all, but it was nice to see the Seoul of yesteryear when grandfathers still wore traditional clothes and hats!
On the whole I am really glad I have this DVD and am keen to look at more of the short film DVDs that are available. Serious Battle, A Boy’s Poem and Imagine 2001 are the strongest of the shorts and it’s well worth having the DVD for these alone.