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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Korean Cinema News (10/06-10/12, 2011)

Lots of news stemming from the Busan International Film Festival, which is currently underway and will wrap up on Friday.  Also a number of great features and analyses peppered throughout. 


In Review: 2011 Busan International Film Festival
The 2011 Busan International Film Festival (now known as BIFF) began last Thursday and continues until this Friday.  I was able to attend 12 films over the course of the weekend, catching many of the movies I most wanted to see.  Overall the quality was quite strong, with a number of great films that will certainly be among my favorites in what has already been a very good year in world cinema.  (The One One Four, October 12, 2011)

Han Ga-in Returns After Seven Years With Architectural Theory
Actress Han Ga-in, who hasn't starred in a film since Once Upon a Time in High School (2004), will make her comeback with Architectural Theory, the new film from the director of Possessed (2009), Lee Yong-joo-I.  (, October 11, 2011)

Asia’s Directors Embracing 3-D
A 3-D horror movie set in a public toilet block is part of a revolution underway in the Asian film industry as low-budget 3-D productions take on the big studios at their own game.  At the 16th Busan International Film Festival, audiences have been lining up to see the likes of multimillion dollar 3-D productions The Three Musketeers and the reimaged version of the local monster hit The Host (2006).  (Joong Ang Daily, October 12, 2011)

What's Missing from Busan This Year? Hollywood
Notice anything different about the Busan International Film Festival this year?  Actually, there are many changes.  There's a new festival director, Lee Yong-kwan; there's a new venue, the Busan Cinema Center; and the Asian Film Market has moved to the Busan Exhibition and Convention Centre.  But amid all the changes, something's missing: Hollywood.  (The Hollywood Reporter, October 9, 2011)

Korea Contents Fund Showcase at Busan
At the 16th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) and the 6th Asian Film Market, fund managers presented a variety of options for filmmakers at the Korea Contents Fund Showcase yesterday.  BIFF Festival Director LEE Yong Kwan opened the event with a message of welcome and thanks.  “It’s a wonderful thing to have these leading investment funds presenting here at the Busan International Film Festival today.  It is one of our goals to support filmmakers to find financing and distribution means, in addition to screening their films in our festival.”  (KOBIZ, October 12, 2011)

BIFF Closing Ceremony Selects Hosts
Director Jang Jin and actress Ryu Hyun-kyung will host the closing ceremony for this year’s Busan International Film Festival.  The ceremony will begin at 8 p.m. on Friday and will signal the end of the nine-day event, now Asia’s largest film festival.  The festival’s opening ceremony was hosted by two actresses, Ye Ji-won and Um Ji-won - representing the first time in history two women had hosted the opening event.  (Joong Ang Daily, October 12, 2011)

Ordinary people presented iPhone-made shorts on the sidelines of the Busan International Film Festival over the weekend, demonstrating even a 12-year-old can venture into filmmaking as the high-tech handset lowers the age threshold.  Despite featuring no film luminaries and drawing much smaller audiences than the festival’s official selections, these smartphone flicks show how amateurs can take advantage of technology to turn their mundane life into cinematic art.  (Joong Ang Daily, October 12, 2011)

Chapman University Presents The Busan West Asian Film Festival Nov. 11-13, 2011 in Orange, CA
Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, recognized as one of the premiere film schools in the United States, in continued partnership with South Korea's Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), Asia's largest film festival, is proud to announce the Busan West Asian Film Festival, November 11-13 in Orange, Calif.  Busan West presents a unique filmmaker showcase that brings select Asian films and filmmakers from BIFF to the U.S. to create a new platform for heightened recognition outside of Asia.  This year the festival organizers are excited to welcome internationally acclaimed writer/director Bong Joon-ho (Mother, 2009; The Host, 2006; Memories of Murder, 2003), as the Busan West Icon Award recipient.  (, October 10, 2011)

Busan’s Asian Film Market Opens at New Venue
The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF)’s Asian Film Market opened yesterday for the first time in its new venue at the Busan Exhibition Convention Center (BEXCO). The market has reported a 67% increase in sales booths and a 24% increase in participant registration since last year.  (KOBIZ, October 11, 2011)

Little Wonders - The Child Actors of South Korea
The way people perceive of child actors can be guessed by the term itself. "Child actor" instead of "actor", as it is for everyone else.  Whether the world likes it or not, Western cinema, and mainly Hollywood, is the one that is available everywhere and so in our faces that we are often having trouble finding anything else.  So the usual idea people have about child actors as well, comes from Hollywood.  (Orion 21, October 9, 2011)

Showbox Sells Busan Opening Film Always to Japan
Major Korean distributor Showbox/Mediaplex has sold Song Il-gon’s melodrama Always, the 16th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) opening film, to Japan’s Pony Canyon.  The film tells the fatal story of a former boxer and a blind girl who fall in love. It stars heartthrob So Ji-sub, who has built a fan-base in Asia after the hit TV series I Am Sorry, I Love You and Jang Hun’s debut feature Rough Cut (2008).  Opposite him stars Han Hyo-joo who swept up drama awards last year for her performance in the TV series Dong-Yi.  (KOBIZ, October 9, 2011)
Two months after the fact, it has been revealed that actress Han Chae-won killed herself on Aug. 25 at her home in Yeonhui-dong, central Seoul. Han was 31 years old.  The Seoul Seodaemun Police Station announced Saturday that Han appeared to have committed suicide since they discovered no signs of murder at the scene.  They did, however, report a suicide note, which said, “I want to die. I’m really sorry for my parents.”   (Joong Ang Daily, October 10, 2011)

Netflix Expanding Asian Movie Selection in Deal with Korea's Top Studio CJ E&M
CJ E&M today announced an agreement to feature twenty of its acclaimed Asian movies on Netflix, the world's leading Internet subscription service for enjoying movies and TV shows.  Beginning in October 2011, Netflix members in the US will be able to instantly watch the twenty titles multiple platforms, including TVs, popular tablets, key gaming consoles, computers and mobile phones.  (, October 7, 2011)

Local Heroes Heed the Call
Films from South Korea had a quietly successful year in the first eight months of 2011, despite a lack of high-profile titles on the international stage.  The industry is set to finish the last quarter in strength with a series of high profile releases.  For the first eight months of the year, local films enjoyed a 49% market share by admissions (47% by box office), a steady increase on the 42% (and 39%) achieved in the first eight months of 2010.  Overall admissions during the period were fractionally up at 107 million with box office at W838 million ($735m).  (Film Business Asia, October 10, 2011)
With a new name, a new venue and an emphasis on actors and directors from lesser-known parts of Asia, this South Korean port city is moving decisively to assert its status as the region's pre-eminent film industry destination.  (Reuters, October 10, 2011)

Kim Kee-duk Back in Director’s Chair
Kim Kee-duk, the 1960s cineaste who is not to be confused with the younger film maverick Kim Ki-duk (Arirang), was honored with a special award from Hermes Korea, Friday.  Kim appeared thoroughly moved as he received the Hermes Director’s Chair, a handsome piece of luxurious leather furniture monogrammed with his name.  (The Hollywood Reporter, October 8, 2011)

Bong Joon-ho’s The Host Gets Converted Into 3D, Sequel Still In The Works
While it’s never been a better time for the crossover of Asian cinema to audiences on this side of the ocean, none have been quite as big as Bong Joon-ho‘s The Host.  The 2006 film became a sensation, not only smashing box office records at home in South Korea, but becoming a must see film stateside, breaking out of its genre niche and finding a larger audience than this kind of flick normally would.  It seems that producers around the world all share the common trait of milking a hit movie for all it’s worth, as not only is there a long gestating sequel to the movie still on the table, until that arrives, The Host has gotten a brand new 3D makeover.  (indieWIRE, October 11, 2011)

Actors Buy 1,000 BIFF Tickets for Underprivileged
Actress Kong Hyo-jin and actor Cha Seung-won purchased 1,000 tickets to the Busan International Film Festival and donated them to organizers to hand out to socially marginalized groups.  (The Chosun Ilbo, October 12, 2011)

Korean WWII Film Promises Big Action, Bigger Drama
A new World War II action drama with an Asian perspective promises never before-seen battle scenes rife with humanist messages.  After holding a large-scale press junket at the Cannes Film Festival in May, the makers of My Way held the first Asian media showcase in Busan on Saturday.  Footages of the 28 billion-won Korea-China co-production were revealed during the event, featuring exquisite period details of 1930s Seoul to bloody battle sequences on European battlegrounds.  (The Hollywood Reporter, October 8, 2011)

Korean Animators Face Screen, Financing Barriers
Leafie, A Hen into the Wild was nicknamed “the emperor of the matinee” in Korea when the film first hit theaters this summer.  An animated film directed by Oh Seong-yoon with the budget of 3 billion won ($2.5 million), it is one of the few Korean animated films that broke 2.5 million admissions domestically. Still, theater owners refused to screen the film during the evening hours.  And when it did, the film was given screens left over by 3D Korean blockbusters such as Sector 7.  (The Hollywood Reporter, October 11, 2011)

Korean Summer Box Office Analysis
It was a summer of higher expectations than ever before.  People wondered if this year might be one that produced another film that clocked up the watershed number of 10 million admissions.  This year, an impressive number of big-scale Korean films were making their debut, including Quick and Sector 7, produced by Haeundae director J.K. Youn; The Front Line directed by Jang Hun, who had shot to stardom with popular films Rough Cut (2008) and Secret Reunion (2010), and War of the Arrows (a.k.a. Arrow, The Ultimate Weapon) by Kim Han-min (Paradise Murdered, 2007;  Handphone, 2009).  (Korean Cinema Today, October 7, 2011)

Actor Song Kang-ho
Not many would dispute the statement that actor Song Kang-ho is one of the best, if not the best actor currently working in the Korean film industry.  He’s always met our expectations and Hindsight is no exception.  Du-heon (Song) has left a gang to start a new life by opening a restaurant when a girl comes into his life.  (Korean Cinema Today, October 7, 2011)

Always Busan Q&A
Press conference took place after a press screening of Always at the 2011 Busan International Film Festival on October 6, 2011.  Appearing as speakers are the movie's director Song Il-Gon, lead actress Han Hyo-Joo and lead actor So Ji-Sub.  AsianMediaWiki editor Ki Mun was there and transcribed/translated the session.  (asianmediawiki, October 6, 2011)



You Pet

(Modern Korean Cinema, October 10, 2011)

Korean Cinema News is a weekly feature which provides wide-ranging news coverage on Korean cinema, including but not limited to: features; festival news; interviews; industry news; trailers; posters; and box office. It appears every Wednesday morning (GMT+1) on Modern Korean Cinema. For other weekly features, take a look at the Korean Box Office Update and the Weekly Review Round-upReviews and features on Korean film also appear regularly on the site. 

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