Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013

eiffJust as we finished writing up about film festivals, another festival has popped up and announced that it will be featuring a focus on South Korean cinema! The Edinburgh Film Festival was established in 1947 and is the oldest continually running film festival in the world! The aims of the EIFF work to present film premieres of both UK and international films, helping film-makers exhibit their films.

This year the EIFF will be featuring a very special focus on two countries, Sweden and South Korea. They have also managed to bag South Korean Director Bong Joon-ho to chair the International Feature Film Competition Jury! Back at the Cannes Film Festival, EIFF Artistic Director Chris Fujiwara refereed to Bong Joon-ho as “one of the greatest filmmakers” and now after The Last Stand and Stoker, everyone is eagerly anticipating the premier of Bong Joon-ho’s international debut Snowpiercer (you can read our Korean Directors in Hollywood post here). We’re sure he’ll get a lot of questions about his upcoming release during his visit to Scotland, as it is the film on everyone’s lips at the moment. He’s definitely a UK favourite with a number of his films often being shown on Channel 4 such as The Host and Mother. Bong Joon-ho will be joined on the panel by Natalie Dormer of Game of Thrones and The Tudors fame, and Scotland based Film critic Siobhan Synnot.

“The Focuses will offer Festival audiences the opportunity to see UK premieres of the best recent work from those two countries” – EIFF Press release

For the Focus on South Korea, EIFF will be showcasing a number of works from South Korea, and like a good festival their focus will be on “films ranging from the commercial mainstream to independent cinema that show the diversity and vitality of Korean film today“. It’s like the EIFF read our what makes a good film festivals article and took notes! The official program launch is on May 29th 2013, but the press release has already listed a number of Korean films being screened.

Jiseul 2012 O Muel

Jiseul (2012) image from dramabeans

First up is The Berlin File by Director Ryu Seung-wan, a definite festival favourite of this year as it will also be screened at the Terracotta Film Festival early next month. This is one of the biggest South Korean films of the year, and as it’s full of action and suspense, it will no doubt be a crowd pleaser. Then on the other scale of Korean cinema, we have Jiseul, a film debut from O Muel, a Jeju island native. Jiseul is shot in black and white, using only local actors and actresses to ensure an authentic and natural Jeju dialect. This film is based on the Jeju uprising on Jeju do in 1948 and Director O Muel says he chose the title Jiseul as it means potato in Jeju island, a vegetable that is considered a stable food in many countries and symbolic of survival and hope (source: wiki).

National Security 2012 Chung Ji Young

National Security (2012)
image from hancinema

Keeping with the history theme, the EIFF will also be featuring a film based on the memoirs of democratic activist Kum Geun-tae who was kidnapped and tortured back in 1985. Director Chung Yi-young has called the film “the most painful experience in my 30 years as a film-maker”, but he found the courage to carry on as he wanted Korean audiences to “engage with our sad history and the sacrifices of great people like Kim Geun-tae in a concrete, meaningful way. If we triumph over the past, we can move forward with unity and reconciliation”  (source: wiki). It’ll be very interesting to see what kind of reaction this film gets from an international audience.

With it currently being exam time for many students, Pluto will be a interesting look into the crazy study ethic of South Korean students. Based in a high school, we watch as one boy does his all to join the secret circle of the top percentile students; who doesn’t love a bit of a high school thriller.  Check out the trailer:

Also at the festival we’ll see:

The imaginative hybrid of fiction and documentary Virgin Forest, which looks at themes of tradition, memory and the past, will be shown with two new shorts: Homo Coreanicus, an allegorical story about Korean society, and Day Trip, directed by Park Chan-wook (Old Boy, Stoker) in collaboration with his brother, Park Chan-kyong, which deals with the Korean traditional music form pansori.

A short about Pansori by the maker of Old Boy? Thats something definitely not to be missed!

The Korea focus at Edinburgh International Film Festival sounds epic! With a chance to see a very varied selection of current Korean cinema! If only we lived closer to Edinburgh…

The EIFF will be on from 19th to 30th June which means a whole fortnight of movies. To keep up to date on what’s happening as well as the official programme launch, make sure you check out their official website and like the Edinburgh International Film Festival Facebook page!

The Focus on Korea is supported by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korean Film Council and the Korean Cultural Centre UK.

Sources: BIFF wiki, BIFF press release


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