London Korean Film Festival 2009

27th October 2009, Comments 0 comments

Korean new wave cinema is acclaimed to be some of the best new cinema in recent years...this is a chance to see some of the greats in person, in London. 5-12 November 2009

The Korean Film Festival is back for another year and will be screening a number  of films at the Barbican in London. Perfect for Koreans yearning for some cinema from home and get to enjoy it on the big screen and an inspiration for everyone else.

The screening schedule is up on the Barbican website, and it’s a great range of the latest hits together with a retrospective of one of the classic directors.

Thursday 5 Nov, 7pm: Park Chan-wook: Thirst.  (Introduction by the director.)

This is the premiere of the Director’s Cut. The screening is sold out already, but you can read about the London premiere screening of the original theatrical cut here.

Ostensibly concerned with the psychological impact of the condition on a very spiritual man, this is a modern take on the Vampire story. It includes (body) bags of Park’s trademark dark humour. Not for the faint-hearted.

Kim Ki-duk: Dream Friday 6 Nov, 6pm: Kim Ki-duk: Dream.
After a nightmare in which he is involved in a hit and run, Jin (Joe Odagiri) discovers that the incident really happened, except that the driver was not him, but stranger Ran (Lee Na-young), who claims she was asleep in bed at the time.

Soon it becomes clear that Jin and Ran are somnolently linked, she acting out whatever he dreams. Acclaimed auteur Kim Ki-duk’s 15th film grapples with the nature of reality and the idea that in a world off-kilter, love can restore the balance.

Breathless Friday 6 Nov 8pm: Yang Ik-june: Breathless (with director screen talk).
A petty criminal with a tragic history, Sang-hoon spends his days freelancing as a hired thug and venting his pent-up rage in random acts of violence – until a similarly damaged schoolgirl offers him a chance to let go of the past.

Recipient of several festival awards, this is an uncompromising debut feature from writer, director and star Yang Ik-june, who tackles the uneasy subject of domestic violence with a startling, compelling lead performance.

Park Chan-wook: Thirst.
Park Chan-wook's film Thirst. 

Footy Saturday 7 Nov 11am: Footy Fabulous and Future Fantastic.
This year we’re delighted to be screening the UK premiere of the first two episodes of a brand new Korean animation, Dreamkix, a fantastic football story!

Roy the dog is desperate to play soccer in the Dream League but first he must recruit a brand new team and train them to be champions! FFC will also be screening the first episode in the futuristic adventure, Eon Kid. So look out for non-stop robotic action as well!

Oseam Saturday 7 Nov 12:45pm: Oseam.

Gorgeous animation and a beautiful story are combined to create a film of rare power and charm. Based on a fairy tale by Korean writer Jeong Chae-bong, orphans Gilson and his blind sister Gami are looked after by Buddhist monks.

However, naturally curious, Gilson leaves the temple and sets off on a journey that will teach him the true meaning of love and sacrifice.

Sorry Saturday 7 Nov, 2:30pm:The Story of Mr Sorry.
Mr Sorry is a professional ear cleaner who, after a chance encounter with the head of his company, starts to shrink and soon is so small that he can actually climb into the ears of his clients.

Exploring people’s ears, Mr Sorry finds a route into their thoughts and makes some shocking discoveries. Twisted, surreal and full of bizarre characters, this brand new animation is a compelling tale of the dark and secret places hidden in the human mind.

Eighteen Saturday 7 Nov 4:15pm: Jang Kun-jae: Eighteen.
Eighteen and in love, Tae-hoon and Mi-jung celebrate their 100 day anniversary with a trip to the beach, but when they return, their parents forbid them to see each other until they start college. Whilst Mi-jung complies, Tae-hoon is compelled to follow her around. As their relationship dynamic changes, winter turns to spring, and both approach nineteen… A paean to his teenage years, this is an impressive debut feature for director, writer, producer and editor Jang Kun-jae.

Himalaya Sunday 8 Nov, 4pm: Jeon Soo-il: Himalaya, where the wind dwells.
Choi (Choi Min-sik, Old Boy) is in personal crisis, with a desperate need to reconnect to life as it rushes past. When an acquaintance is killed in a traffic accident, Choi sets out to return the man’s remains to his home in the Himalayas, unsure of where the road will lead.

Writer-director Jeon Soo-il follows his multi award winning A girl of Black Soil with this superbly scenic story of one man’s journey of discovery. 

Jeon Soo-il: Himalaya, where the wind dwells.
Jeon Soo-il: Himalaya, where the wind dwells.

Treeless Mountain Sunday 8 Nov, 6:30pm: Kim So-yeong: Treeless Mountain.
Left with just a piggy bank and each other, two sisters are sent to live with their Aunt until their mother’s promised return. As the girls hopes fade, they struggle to make sense of their new circumstances and begin to develop a new resourcefulness.

 Kim So-yong follows her dreamy In Between Days with this award winning, semi-autobiographical tale of family ties, broken bonds and the resilience of youth. Both moving and restrained, this is a masterful look at childhood.

Haeundae Sunday 8 Nov, 8:30pm: Yun Je-gyun: Haeundae.
This year’s massive blockbuster. Packed like sardines onto every available inch of festival capital Busan’s perfect beach, a million holiday makers jostle to bask in the sun and frolic in the cool blue…wait… what’s that on the horizon?.. Is that a giant tidal wave?!!

Starring Sol Kyung-gu, and Ha Ji-won, Korea’s first full blown, major budget disaster movie is a deserving box office mega-hit back home, with writer/director Yun Je-gyun avoiding the usual tried and tested all-bang, no brains approach and creating a cleverly knowing, non-stop action-fest that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Insadong Monday 9 Nov, 6:15pm: Park Hee-gon: Insadong Scandal.

Missing for 400 years, the rediscovery of a fabled royal painting causes much excitement amongst the art world elite. Anticipating the mother of all paydays when it goes to auction, owner Bae Tae-jin (Um Jung-hwa) offers best-in-the-biz restorer and sometime forger Lee Kang-joon (Kim Rae-won) $1 million to fix up the priceless canvas.

But something’s clearly amiss and amid jealous rival dealers, curious cops and elaborate double crosses, wily Kang-jun must stay one step ahead to stay out of jail. Excellent performances and clever plotting crown this smart, super-slick caper movie with bags of attitude.

Rough Cut Monday 9 Nov, 8:45pm: Jang Hun: Rough Cut.
An action star’s violent temper means that his co-stars are refusing to work with him. Desperate, he offers a part to a charismatic gangster, who accepts on one condition: the fight scenes must be real.

During the intense shoot that follows, each man is drawn to the life the other has, and both realise they are fighting for their futures. Penned by Kim Ki-duk, Jang Hun’s first film packs an impressive punch. With So Ji-sub and Kang Ji-hwan.

Park Chan-wook, the Thirst trailer

Kims Daughters Tuesday 10 Nov, 6:15pm: Yu Hyun-mok: Kim’s Daughters.
 Part 1 of a Yu Hyun-mok double bill. This strikingly political and engrossing family drama focuses on the four, very different, daughters of Kim Yak-guk (Kim Dong-won), a pharmacist trying to save his dwindling business and successfully marry off his children. Plans to wed his wilful third daughter Yong-ran (Choi Ji-hee) go awry when it is discovered she is having an affair with the house servant.

Yu contrasts her modern sexual liberation with the dutiful obedience of her older sister Yong-bin (Um Aing-ran), who fulfils the role of male heir for her father. Exploring the different lifestyles open to women since Korea’s modernisation and the conflict with patriarchal traditions, Yu perfectly captures the struggles of modern Korean’s to adapt.

Martyr Tuesday 10 Nov, 8:30pm: Yu Hyun-mok: Kim’s Daughters.

Another of Yu’s successful literary adaptations and the first film he also independently produced, Martyr is Yu’s celebrated exploration of religious faith and martyrdom.

After surviving being killed along with fellow ministers in a brutal abduction during the Korean War, two clergymen return safely to their homes, yet due to their experiences begin to doubt the existence of God. Meanwhile an officer arrives to investigate the war crimes and exactly how their fellow ministers died.

Private Eye Wednesday 11 Nov, 6:15pm: Park Dae-min: Private Eye.
Park Dae-min films his own award winning screenplay for his first feature, a murder mystery set in Seoul in the early 19th century.

Private eye Hong Jin-ho will take any job, if the price is right, so when a not-so-saintly medical student hires him to find the murderer of his latest autopsy cadaver, Hong can’t say no, even if there’s something fishy about the case… Starring Hwang Jung-min and Ryu Deok-hwan, this is unashamedly more deep fried than hard-boiled.

Scandal Makers Wednesday 11 Nov, 8:30pm: Kang Hyung-chul: Scandal Makers.
One-time film star Nam Hyun-soo is now the host of an average radio show. When a young women phones in asking for help to find her long lost father, ratings skyrocket, but when the women turns up at his door, 6 year old son in tow, claiming he’s her father , he’ll do anything to hide the scandal and save his celebrity image…

Phenomenally popular all round entertainer Cha Tae-hyun, is perfectly cast as confirmed batchelor Hyun-soo, and newcomer Wang Suk-hyun steals every scene as his wry-smiled, card sharp ‘grandson’. A surprise box office hit in Korea, Kang Hyung-chul’s debut feature is an unmissible quirky comedy.

Obaltan_00 Thursday 12 Nov, 6:15pm: Yu Hyun-mok: Aimless Bullet.
Frequently topping lists as the best Korean film of all time, the superlative Aimless Bullet is the finest example of realism in Korean cinema and Yu’s most accomplished work.

Yeong-ho (Kim Jin-kyu) is a clerk struggling to support his large family on his meagre salary. His mother has gone mad during the war, his wife is heavily pregnant, his sister has become a prostitute for the US soldiers, whilst his unemployed war veteran brother has resorted to crime in an attempt to end their misery. Yu’s moving depiction of a family in despair, poignantly captured the broader feeling of defeat in Korean society of the period and highlighted the woeful legacy of the Korean War.

Frozen Flower Thursday 12 Nov, 8:30pm: Yoo Ha: A Frozen Flower.
Yoo Ha follows the award winning A Dirty Carnival with this ravishing 14th century set tale of love, betrayal and revenge, replete with trademark stunning set-piece action.

An ambitious King, his young male lover and his lonely, isolated queen become trapped in a web of passion, jealousy and heartbreak when, in order to protect his throne, the King must produce an heir at any cost. With exquisite performances from stars Zo In-sung (A Dirty Carnival), Joo Jin-mo (200 Pounds Beauty) and Song Ji-hyo.


London Korean Links/ Barbican/ Expatica


Tickets available from the Barbican website. For more information on Korean news in London see London Korean Links.

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