An introduction to the LKFF summer documentary fortnight

by Philip Gowman on 20 July, 2018

in Documentaries

I’m glad the KCC is spreading out the goodness of the London Korean Film Festival throughout the year. That first week or so in November gets far too congested with all the competing strands of the festival (with additional competition from LEAFF and the K-music festival). So to have the high-quality teasers earlier in the year is a good idea. And now there’s the innovation of breaking out a separate documentary strand into the summer months, so that we can give the films our full attention.

Kim Dong-won documentaries

Clockwise from top left: Repatriation, The Sanggyedong Olympics, My Friend Jung Il-woo and 6 Day Struggle at Myeongdong Cathedral, by director Kim Dong-won

The mini-festival, entitled Another World We Are Making, is based around themes of social justice and political resistance. For me, the main attraction of the fortnight, which actually runs over two consecutive weekends in August, is the focus on Kim Dong-won. I’ve long been trying to track down a DVD of his Repatriation, which the KCC describes as being “regarded as one of the most important documentaries ever made in South Korea”, and now I’m going to get the chance to see it on the big screen with a director Q+A. That’s on Sunday afternoon, 12 August (followed by a roundtable featuring two of the directors involved in the fortnight).

The previous day, we have two further documentaries by Kim, both of which dovetail nicely with June’s hit teaser screening 1987: When the Day Comes: The Sanggyedong Olympics (which deals with residents who have to cope with redevelopment of their area in the run-up to the 1988 Seoul Olympics) and The 6 Day Struggle at Myeongdong Cathedral (which overlaps with the closing scenes of 1987 and focuses on the relationship between the Catholic Church and the democratisation movement). I’m actually looking forward more to The Sanggyedong Olympics, for its collaborative style of film-making (the residents themselves are credited as producers of the film) which was later to be echoed by Byun Young-joo in her trilogy of documentaries on the surviving “Comfort Women”, in which the grandmothers themselves increasingly take over the direction of the film.

Kim Dong-won returns the following Sunday with a documentary about “Father Jung Il-woo, a North-American Jesuit priest who dedicated his life to political activism and doing charity work for the poor urban and peasant communities in South Korea.”

Director Kim Dong-won (centre) with Dr Kim Minkyu (right)

Director Kim Dong-won (centre) at the Showroom Cinema, Sheffield, 20 June 2015 (photo: LKL)

The programme for the fortnight is completed by a 2017 documentary by Park Bae-il on the Thaad issue, and a 2016 documentary by Song Yun-hyeok on urban poverty.

The full schedule is as follows. All events are free but require reservation via Eventbrite.

Sat 11 Aug 11:30 A Slice Room (Song Yun-hyeok) + Conversation with Song Yun-hyeok and Nam In Young Birkbeck Cinema
13:30 Lunch break (Korean dishes provided) Birkbeck Cinema
14:30 The Sanggyedong Olympics + The Six Day Fight in Myeongdong Cathedral (Kim Dong-won) + Conversation with Kim Dong Won and Nam In Young Birkbeck Cinema
17:00 Drinks Reception Birkbeck Cinema
Sun 12 Aug 13:30 Repatriation (Kim Dong-won) + Conversation with Kim Dong Won and Chris Berry Birkbeck Cinema
16:45 Roundtable
Participants: Nam In Young, Kim Dong Won and Song Yun-hyeok
Moderator: Chris Berry
Keynes Library
18:15 Drinks reception Keynes Library
Sat 18 Aug 15:00 Soseongri (Park Bae-il) + Introduction KCCUK
Sun 19 Aug 15:00 Jung Il-woo, My Friend (Kim Don-won) + Introduction KCCUK

Check koreanfilm.co.uk for updates.

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