A nice selection of films for June. We’ve seen and reviewed four of them and they all will merit a re-watch. We’re particularly looking forward to seeing Gyeongju for the first time.
Korean Film Nights “Summer Nights” season
In collaboration with the students from the Film Studies, Programming and Curation MA at the National Film and Television School, the Korean Cultural Centre UK (KCCUK) is delighted to present the new summer season of Korean Film Nights 2022. All screenings will take place at the KCCUK, free of charge, with seats booking via www.koreanfilm.co.uk . Korean Film Nights (KFN) is a year-round programme of film screenings, mini-lectures and discussions that guide audiences through different aspects of Korean cinema and culture, running since 2008.
The new series, KFN Summer Nights, offers a collection of five films curated around the idea of summers as backdrop to life-changing events:
The programme begins by looking at ‘the summer of youth’, often defined by the growing pains of adolescence. In Yoon Ga-eun’s The House of Us (2019), the summer season provides the setting for escapist wonder for a group of children away from their fraught lives at home. When fifth-grader Hana’s attempts to mend her parents’ relationship fail, she befriends sisters, Yoo-mi and Yoo-jin, who themselves have grown weary of constantly moving and rarely seeing their parents. The lonely trio build a makeshift family together, finding moments of carefree summer joy missing from their own homes. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with film curator and archivist Young Jin Eric Choi, Korean Film Archive.
In her Berlinale-winner feature debut House of Hummingbird (2018), Kim Bora draws upon her own experience growing up in the early 1990s. Set against the backdrop of a rapidly expanding Seoul in the summer of 1994, a lonely 14-year-old Eun-hee moves through life like a hummingbird searching for a taste of sweetness wherever she may find it. Deprived of attention from her family, she roams the neighbourhood with her best friend, attempts romantic relationships with both girls and boys alike and is sent to the hospital with an unclear diagnosis. When Young-ji, a new teacher, arrives, she becomes the first adult Eun-hee feels really understands her.
The next two films look at summer months arriving during adulthood, fraught with personal heartaches. In novelist-turned-filmmaker Zhang Lu’s tender romance, Gyeongju (2014), Hyeon, a Korean professor living in Beijing, returns to his homeland to attend a colleague’s funeral, only to have the unresolved past set him to the city of Gyeongju in search of a tea-house with a peculiar painting. Upon discovering that the shop is now owned by a young woman, Yoon-hee, an unusual relationship develops between the two, leading to unexpected and intriguing consequences.
In Jang Kun-jae’s Sleepless Night (2012) the stuffy summer months embody the malaise that has set into the lives of Hyun-soo and Joo-hee, a married, 30-something, couple. As sunny days and sweaty nights drift by, the couple’s conversations are filled with discussions of love and parenthood, and all the joys and pressures associated with both, pondering the next steps into their uncertain future. The screening will be followed by an extended discussion with the National Film & Television School, Film Studies, Programming and Curation MA students.
The programme ends with a look at the summer of old age. The closing film, Lee Chang-Dong’s Cannes winner Poetry (2010), features the legendary actress Yun Jung-hee in the lead role as a grandmother who embarks on a new creative journey; however, it seems that time is no longer on her side. A beautiful rumination on life and death, the summertime setting reveals itself as a time for rebirth and an opportunity for potential change. The screening will be followed by a poetry reading of works by author Jeong Ho-Seung featured in the film.
All screenings will be accompanied by introductions.
Films in the season:
YOON Ga-eun: The House of Us (2019), 9 June, 7pm
KIM Bora: House of Hummingbird (2018), 11 June, 5pm
ZHANG Lu: Gyeongju (2014), 16 June, 7pm
JANG Kun-jae: Sleepless Night (2012), 23 June, 7pm
LEE Chang-dong: Poetry (2010), 30 June, 7pm