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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Why You Shouldn't Dare Miss KOFFIA 2011!

If you are fan of Korean cinema but have not heard of the brilliant and imminent Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA), surely you must be living under some sort of internet-repelling rock. I want to take a little bit of time to explain in plain terms why you should know about it, why you should be very exited about it, and, as it follows, why you be remiss to miss this wonderful celebration of the ingenuity, versatility, beauty, explosiveness, and awe-inspiring power of the South Korean film industry.
Jang Cheol-soo's Bedevilled
I make no secret and certainly no apologies for my zealous love of this national cinema. I've spent my entire life watching films from across the globe spanning time immemorial, or at least since the Lumieres Brothers, Thomas Edison, or Louis Le Prince, depending on what you believe, changed and enriched our lives forever. I have witnessed; the wondrous and striking early treasures of 1920s and 30s cinema from the US, Weimar Germany, Communist Russia, and many more; the bold and majestic glory of 1940s Hollywood and the heart-rending honesty of Italian Neorealism; the triumphant and poetic genius of 1950s Japanese cinema; the witty, cool, and powerful French Cinema of the 60s; the progressive confidence of 1970s Hollywood and New German Cinema; and the infinitely versatile and too many to name global cinemas of the 1980s, 90s, and new millenium. So much to love, so much to inspire, so much to revere. Yet none more so than an industry that has been plugging away at full steam for over a decade and show no signs of letting up. For me cinema as an industry has never been so complete as it has in the hands of the globalized, revitalized, and ferociously competent Korean cineastes of the modern era.
Kim Tae-kyun's A Barefoot Dream
It's a rather lofty endorsement and not one that I expect all to ascribe to, but no matter what your tastes, if you are a lover of cinema then more or less by default, you should be a lover of Korean film. Those Korean films that have penetrated into the Western consciousness have been unquestionable successes, films like Oldboy (2003), Memories of Murder (2003), A Bittersweet Life (2005), and The Host (2006). However, they only hint at the depth of the industry from which they emanated. Dig a little deeper and you will finds some of the world's greatest art films, romantic comedies, horrors, action films, thrillers, melodramas, and so, so, so much more. For this reason and more I urge you to take a look at KOFFIA 2011.
Hong Sang-soo's Oki's Movie
This year's expanded edition of KOFFIA demonstrates why Korean cinema demands and deserves your attention. The event, which takes place in Sydney August 24-29 and then moves to Melbourne for September 10-13, is split into a variety of categories that cater to your preference in cinema, including: Crime and Punishment, Bloody Friday, Ride the Dream, Extraordinary Ordinary Families, Indie Cinema, Brothers Divided and Masters and Students.
Lee Jeong-beom's The Man From Nowhere
The festival's most well-known offerings are a dizzying display of modern cinematic technique, impeccable storytelling, and thoughtful creativity. Ryu Seung-wan's The Unjust, Lee Jeong-beom's The Man From Nowhere, and Jang Cheol-soo's Bedevilled are three out of the most well-known Korean films from 2010 to western audiences and for good reason. Looking beyond these hardboiled thrillers you will find: some of last year's most lauded arthouse films, including Hong Sang-soo's Oki's Movie and Park Jung-bum's The Journals of Musan; as well as emotional and well-crafted inspirational films such as Kim Tae-kyun's A Barefoot Dream. Beyond last year's films the festival will also present an eclectic mix of past but still recent Korean movies that you may not have had a chance to see on the big screen, like: Park Chan-wook's Joint Security Area (2000), Ryu Seung-wan's No Blood No Tears (2002), and Han Jae-rim's The Show Must Go On (2007). These and many more promise great things for one of the world's most exiting yearly exhibitions of Asian film. Don't you dare miss out!

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