Kim Hong-joon’s My Korean Cinema, which screened as part of the documentary strand of the 2016 London Korean Film Festival, provides the inspiration and structure for the July / August season of films at the KCC, curated by students from the MA Film Programming and Curating course at Birkbeck. They provide the background below:
Patchworks : Unwrapping My Korean Cinema
Running through July and August, Patchworks: Unwrapping My Korean Cinema is the final season of 2017’s Korean Film Nights. The title is a play on Kim Hong-joon’s My Korean Cinema (2002–2006), an 8-episode essay film that explored the director’s relationship with the history of Korean cinema. With each of the 8 episodes tackling a separate facet of the history of Korean cinema, our programme will focus on two episodes within the film: Smoking Women and For the March of Fools. Our programme of six Thursday night screenings will then be further separated into two mini-strands of three nights each. These two mini-strands will be comprised of five features and a short film programme in which My Korean Cinema will be cinematically ‘unwrapped’.
In the Smoking Women episode, Kim Hong-joon proposes that in 1930s Korean cinema, women were primarily visual vessels of sexual desire. The presence of a smoking woman on screen, for him, became emblematic of ‘easy virtue’. Over the first three screenings, our programme seeks to question the longevity of this ideal in Korean cinema, and to propose a new role for women in contemporary Korean film. The two features, It’s Not Her Sin from 1959, and the 2016 documentary The Knitting Club present Korean women as everything from victims of circumstance through to creators of their own destiny. Meanwhile, the contemporary shorts reflect today’s more nuanced understanding of the female experience.
For the second half of the programme, we focus on For the March of Fools, the second episode from Kim Hong-joon’s essay film series. This episode is a reflection on the impact the 1975 film, The March of Fools, had on Kim as a filmmaker. Taking protest and the idealism of youth as the film’s main themes, our corresponding response is a series of films that reflect the changing face of protest in contemporary Korean cinema. This mini-strand will commence with a screening of the seminal film, The March of Fools (1975), and be followed by a new feature, Garak Market Revolution (2017) which can be seen as a spiritual sequel to the original film. The programme will finish with Kim’s own narrative film La Vie en Rose (1994) which explores the connected theme of youth.