If you read my previous article on this subject, that namely being the London Korean Film Festival 2018’s “Special Focus: A Slice of Everyday Life“… then… well, this has got to be better, surely!
Perhaps because in that posting I only barely alluded to my real thoughts regarding this year’s Special Focus strand and instead decided to dwell more on such a special stand from the LKFF 2017 – yes, a whole year ago – and heavily leaned towards praise for a certain Mr Bae Chang-ho.
This time though, it’s ‘not so’ personal. Indeed, I’ll get more to the point and not simply draw you into my writings and wonderings on less directly linked subjects.
I will, again, say that these SPECIAL articles which FOCUS on “Special Focus: A Slice of Everyday Life” [see what I did there?!] – or what could almost be a MiniMini mini-series or mini-serial devoted to what essentially is just a small strand* in a much bigger festival line-up – will not stop at there being just a Part 1 and a Part 2, but in fact more… So, you have been warned!
* When I say small, it’s actually quite extensive… Some of the films are older ones, compared to others in the festival’s line-up this year – that said some are VERY NEW or simply ‘CLASSICS’ which have never been brought to the UK before.
In fact, it was all going to be ONE article but, well, I had too much to say, and so, as I stated recently on social media,
“This particular LKFF strand I’m very much looking forward to. So much so that it warrants a mini-series of articles – Part 1 is here & Part 2 (and 3+…!) will follow very soon…”
As I signalled to towards the end of that Part 1 post, this year’s films are actually different to the ones in the Special Focus strand of last year, but at the same time – and to go over again – these are still films of importance in Korean cinema, AND although the ‘Everyday Life’ wording could easily take one back to films of directors such as Mr Bae, and surely others, it can also relate to the films in this year’s strand.. and it does.
But why are the films within this “Special Focus: A Slice of Everyday Life” so special?
Well, to begin with, if you’re into Korean cinema of days gone by (yet not that old!) and not so much into ‘just the latest Korean blockbusters’ you’ll know a few of these films, or film titles, already.
Of course, this is coming from someone, and indeed a site who/which has been covering Korean cinema, and let’s not forget Japanese & ‘other’, for over 7 years. But… you may not know that much about Korean film, and in all honesty I know so much less than I should. Therefore, there’s a good chance you’re more familiar with these titles and may have even seen more of them than I.
So, to give you an idea of what films to expect [there are many more than these though] and why I’ve picked them, rather than simply throwing out the names of random, here THEY are… 5 of THEM!:
THIS CHARMING GIRL
CHRISTMAS IN AUGUST
THE POWER OF KANGWON PROVINCE
However, before I go into why you may know those films, in my own little & perhaps convoluted way, I will say that there are actually 15 films in this strand and these are only 5 [yep, I can count!] and I’m not saying that those 5 are the best. How could I? I’ve not witnessed ALL those in this mini-season. Not least because some of the films featured are, as mentioned before very new or simply ‘CLASSICS’ which have never been brought to the UK before now. Oh, and there’s what looks like a promising Forum related to this strand.
THIS CHARMING GIRL
True cineastes of Korean cinema will know that this title gets chatted about quite a bit, if only by those cineastes (!) – and by true I mean ones which appreciate such quiet charming films like this rather than the sort which are perhaps more explosive, brutal, mainstream or plain repetitive.
When I hear this title, I think back to the Korean Cultural Centre and specifically my early visits to it [maybe as early as 2010]. You see, I either caught it there, heard about it there (via one of their fabulous and FREE film nights or seasons) OR through Mr Quinn, aka HangulCelluloid.com – or was it all three?
CHRISTMAS IN AUGUST
Another classic, some would say. And that ‘some’ would certainly include, yet again, ‘Mr HangulCelluloid.com’ – to say he rates it as a good film is an understatement but I’ll let him explain or elaborate on that if you meet him and ask the question!
Where did I hear about this film? Perhaps it’s one of the scenarios above, in the blurb under THIS CHARMING GIRL. It may even have been in my filmed interview with Mr Quinn, for my yet-to-be-completed South Korea documentary amongst the many answers given… to the many questions I put to him.
I was truly blown away by this film – or, “breathless”, you could even say! – all those years ago, around the time it was released. So much so, that I not only reviewed the film, wrote 3 articles linked in to it, and [ultimately] bought the 2-disc DVD of it from Terracotta Distribution I also interviewed the female star in it, Ms KIM Kkobbi.
In fact, in Part 3 of this mini-series of articles I’ll expand on that and how both Kkobbi AND Ik-June are strongly linked to this year’s LKFF. For now though, here are those 3 articles:
THE POWER OF KANGWON PROVINCE
Let’s fly back to 2010 again and some fond yet vague [is that combination even possible?!] memories of ‘possibly’ my first introduction to some of what Korean cinema has to offer. You see, around that time – I believe – I was getting into Japanese, other Asian, World & various other independent cinema than I was previously experiencing, and soon or indeed alongside all that came KOREAN cinema.
Now, I’m pretty sure that Hong Sang-soo played a part in all this, and perhaps because such Korean films were so different to other films I was witnessing [in Hollywood or independent / foreign], and so Mr Hong’s films, or the film titles stayed with me. That said, I can’t swear that I SAW this actual film but I’m pretty sure I experienced some of the BFI’s ‘celebration’ of his work. See Mr G’s writing in his magnificent LondonKoreanLinks.net site for what I’m referring to.
Whether it was that mini-season or not – I’d have to check through all my photos, writings and internal / brain memory-bank to know for sure! – the irony is that his films ARE NOT really a representation of what Korean films are or can be. Unique he most certainly can be, but not to everyone’s taste, I’m sure. Either way, with such films and those FREE screenings at the KCCUK, I was… well… pretty hooked. Call it The Power Of Korean Pictures!
I recall this from a much more recent time than the other 4 I’ve selected, and for various reasons.
- It’s a superb, quiet, delicate Korean tale.
- BBC 4 screened it – perhaps a rarity or not-common-enough occurrence for such sweet little Korean films – and so I, and hopefully many others got to witness it. I think it’s on Netflix and elsewhere these days too.
- It probably is a little unremarkable in ways people would expect but so wonderful in many other ways.
- Well… Simply because it WAS so recent*.
*Wow! Was it really as far back as 2012?! I think this was the screening – I thought it was much more recent! It was made/released a couple of years before that, incidentally.
But ultimately, and in the words of the people behind this yearly and pretty remarkable and prominent festival – namely the KoreanFilm.co.uk & KCCUK.org,uk guys – this is why you may find this strand intriguing, interesting & intimate, perhaps:
“This year’s Special Focus: A Slice of Everyday Life aims to escape the overtly dramatic to uncover the profundity found in the day-to-day, showing that skilled filmmaking can reveal the significant emotional moments that affect all our lives.
Includes classic screenings, brand new UK & European Premieres and an in-depth Forum with UK & Korean filmmakers and critics.”
Part 3 COMING!