One of the strands to be introduced by the London East Asia Film Festival is a focus on individual festivals in the region. In collaboration with the Institute for Contemporary Arts, who will be screening this strand on Saturday and Sunday mornings during the festival, the focus for the first year is the Jeonju International Film Festival, which started in 2000. The four films screening in London were part of Jeonju’s official selection for their 17th festival held in early May this year.
Film Festival Focus: JIFF
“Independent Cinema in Korea Today”
Running as an annual strand, LEAFF will collaborate with Asian film festivals with a view to bridging the cultural gap between East and West. We recognise the importance of making global connections and collaborating in an international marketplace. We want to allow international festivals to exhibit their programme in the UK, and engage with audiences who are interested in East Asia. This year, LEAFF partners with Jeonju International Film Festival, and Programmer Lee Sang-yong will be in attendance to introduce this section.
Worst Woman (최악의 하루)
Kim Jong-kwan | 2016 | 93min
ICA, Saturday, 22 October 2016, 10:00am Book here
followed by a Q&A with director Kim Jong-kwan, actress Han Ye-ri and actor Kwon Yool
Eun-hee is an actress whose acting is poor, but she also plays in her real life. Her performance full of lies helps her feel she creates different personalities each time she dates separate men. Eventually a pack of her lies is tangled up and everything is about to be messed up.
Ryohei, a Japanese writer, visits Seoul for his book launch party. He often writes a story pushing characters into a corner and then makes it be a tragedy. He meets Eun-hee by chance, who is in a trouble, just like in his novels.
Curtain Call (커튼콜)
Ryoo Hoon | 2016 | 99min
ICA, Sunday, 23 October 2016, 10:00am Book here
Mingi, who once used to be called the Shakespearean genius, for his unique outstanding interpretation and analysis of Shakespearean dramas over 10 years ago, now directs nasty low-class trashy porn plays on stage, against his will and in conflict with his dreams, just to bring in money.
But as the fate would have it, the Shakespearean Theater Competition in commemoration of the 450th anniversary just grabs his attention and triggers the Shakespeare in his blood, so he gets to prepare this tragic classic play,
with his gang of actors.
Every single actor of Mingi Theater Co. has their own life drama stories of turmoil and tears. Cheolgu, the producer of this Theater Co. suffers from stage fright and performance anxiety, though he used to be a widely-loved comedian. Jiyeon, as a single mom of a high school teen, who explodes in anger and insults toward her mom as a porn actress, is dying to share her dream with her daughter. And Jintae, who is a retired actor, who was once renowned for playing only Hamlet for 40 years, suffers from dementia. He is craving to invite his mother to see her son on stage before the dementia strikes him down completely. So he doesn’t let it be known to anyone, until it’s disclosed by itself.
And Wooshik, a self-proclaimed Russian Shchukin Theatre College graduate, seemingly bluffing through his acting career, is obsessed with being Hamlet. Seulgi, a member of an idol girl group, joins the gang, dreaming to be a real actress breaking away from the ‘princess’ image.
After so many twists and turns, the curtain is up and their Hamlet is on-stage, seemingly on a smooth ride, until one member loses his temper and makes a scene, and Hamlet happens to die at the wrong time. One event sets things up for another event, so they need to improvise… incessantly…
Breathing Underwater (물숨)
Koh Heeyoung | 2016 | 77min
ICA, 29 October 2016 10:00am Book here
In Jeju Province, located off the southern coast of Korea, are the women of the sea who hold breath of life. Typhoons and the barren volcanic soil of the islands left the people enduring years of poor harvest and famine. For survival, women looked to the frigid sea. Haenyeos, women of the sea, still exist and they have been diving without air tanks for more than 200 years. They go into the waters of 10-to-20 meter depth to harvest seaweed and shellfish to make a living. They work from 7 to 8 hours a day without even a sip of fresh water. At the end of the day, they return with sumbisori, a whistle-like noise at the near end of their breath.
They make a living in the same sea, but each has a different story. A mother and her daughters dive together, making themselves a third generation haenyeo. Another one started to diving to pay off the debts of her gambling husband. Many hold breath to support their children through school. A haenyeo continues her life at sea, despite having lost her daughter – a fellow haenyeo – to the sea. They have only one thing in common. All hold breath for life. For better life, they hold their breath as long as they can.
They community is divided into three tiers – Group A, B and C, based on only one thing. The length of breath… One’s rank is determined by sum or breath. They believe sum is predetermined at birth. Group B shall never brave the waters of Group A. Every year, there are deaths due to mulsum or breathing underwater, refers to the water haenyeos drink when they run out of their own breath. It is the result of a failed attempt to push one’s limit. It represents a desire and temptation that could not be contained. Life, for these women of the sea, is about holding one’s breath, and containing and controlling one’s desire.
This film is a 7 year record of the lives of the haenyeos in Udo, an islet in the province of Jeju, known to be the birthplace of haenyeo. It is a close look into the lives of extinguishing strong women that stands on the boundary of life and death.
The Great Patriots (우리 손자 베스트)
Kim Soo-hyun | 2016 | 130min
ICA, Sun 30 October 2016 09:30 Book here
Coincidence brings Gyohwan, a ´keyboard warrior´ who has left home and is moving from gosiwon to gosiwon, and Jeongsu, a ´patriotic senior citizen´ who has fought all his life against the left wing, together who become close like a grandfather and grandson. A black comedy about the two who each prepare for their last big event which leads to disaster.
(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.