Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Korean Cinema News (11/24-11/30, 2011)

Another big edition with lots of sales and Korean film festivals news this week with a number of great features and interviews to boot!


Finecut Adds AFM Deals
Germany's Ascot Elite and Brazil's Conquest Filmes became the latest distributors to acquire rights to South Korean animation film Leafie.  Handled by Korean sales firm Finecut, the film has been widely sold following its breakout hit status in Korea.  The company say that international distributors are planning theatrical releases next year targeting a family audience.  (Film Business Asia, November 23, 2011)

Animation Leafie, a Hen into the Wild Wins Award Overseas
The animated feature film Leafie, a Hen into the Wild  has grabbed another award overseas.  The South Korean animation won the Best Animated Feature Film Award at the Fifth Asia-Pacific Screen Awards held in Australia on Thursday, beating other promising nominees, such as Eric Khoo’s Tatsumi and Makoto Shinkai’s Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below. (KBS, November 25, 2011)

Soft Content, Strong Messages
The film Wandeuk or Punch in English is about high school student Wandeuk, who lives with a hunchback father and a mentally-challenged uncle in Seoul.  Nothing about his life shines, and adding to his miserable existence is that his teacher lives right next door to his “oktapbang” or roof-top housing unit that is largely synonymous with poverty in Korea.  (The Korean Times, November 23, 2011)

A Teacher Finds Movie Stardom in South Korea
The best chance an English-language teacher in South Korea has of acquiring military experience, it appears – outside of creating an incident at a checkpoint near the border – is working for Kang Je-gyu, one of the country‘s top movie directors.  (Asia Sentinel, November 24, 2011)

Breaking a Taboo, First Major Film About the L-Word Opens in Korea
There have been many boy-meets-girl or boy-meets-boy love stories in mainstream cinema in Korea, but none about lesbians.  So when director Kim Su-hyeon’s Life is Peachy was screened for the press on Nov. 16, it certainly attracted attention.  (Joong Ang Daily, November 25, 2011)

Busan native Kwak Kyung-taek, who has directed such hits as Friend (2001), Typhoon (2005), A Love (2007), and most recently Pain (2011) chooses his five favorite films, you may be surprised by his choices.  (, November 25, 2011)

Beyond Extreme? The London Korean Film Festival
While the late Tartan Films’ successful ‘Asia Extreme’ sub-label gave many Western viewers in the Noughties their first – perhaps only – taste of the Korean New Wave, it also created an impression of the national cinema that was doubly narrow.  The sixth London Korean Film Festival went some way towards redressing this imbalance.   (Sight & Sound, November 2011)

Highest Grossing Korean Films of 2011
2011 has produced a range of successful Korean films that have captured the public's imagination, tugged at their heartstrings, caused a few laughs, and asked some serious questions.  Although the year is not quite done, the big films of the year have largely had their say at the box office.  This week I wanted to take a look at the top domestic films of 2011 and see just what type of films captured the public's interest in 2011.  (, November 26, 2011)

Martin Scorsese Gives a Thumbs Up to UCI Professor Kyung Hyun Kim's Cinema Book
It's not often that an academic tome--even one related to film--snags a forward written by legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese.  But Kyung Hyun Kim, UC Irvine's associate professor of East Asian languages & literatures and film & media studies, won those bragging rights, and like else everything in Hollywood it all started with the right connections.  (OC Weekly, November 25, 2011)

Korean Film Festival: Islamabad Gets a Taste of Korean Cinema
A Barefoot Dream is high on emotions, but then Pakistanis love their drama.  And besides, the melodrama in the Korean 2010 entry for Oscars consideration is unmistakably East Asian, which is entirely different (if ever slightly so influenced) from Hollywood and Bollywood (sorry, no sappy love stories here).  The film played at the Korean Film Festival at Pakistan National Council of the Arts on Friday.  (The Express Tribune, November 27, 2011)

The Korean Movie Database runs down Korean cinema's box office record breakers, past and present.  A great feature on Korean film history.  (KMDB, November 27, 2011)

From Late Autumn to Countdown, This Year's Disappointing Top 3
Now that the Blue Dragon Film Awards are over, all the major award shows for 2011 are done.  Several movies were released in 2011.  While there were big office hits like Detective K, Sunny, Arrow, The Ultimate Weapon and Punch, there were also movies that just came and went without any sound but were just as strong in quality and lingering imagery.  (, November 28, 2011)

Korean Film Festival in Sri Lanka
The embassy is also in the process of organizing the 2011 Korean film festival which will be held from December 5 to 9 at the National Film Corporation Theatre.  All five movies selected for the festival are box office hits in Korea.  This would be a great opportunity for Sri Lankans to become familiar with the Korean culture and lifestyle in the 21st century while enjoying the benefits of a quality movie at the same time.  (Sri Lanka's Daily News, November 28, 2011)

Spike Lee’s Version of Oldboy Has New Elements Meant to ‘Throw Off’ Audiences Familiar With Original
The possibility of an American remake of South Korean revenge film Oldboy (2003) has been a worrisome thing for a few years now.  But this year Spike Lee was tapped to direct, which immediately made the new Oldboy a more attractive, or at least a more interesting proposition.  With Josh Brolin set to star and Colin Firth rumored to be playing the film’s revenge-seeking antagonist, things are looking petty damn good.  (, November 28, 2011)

Canada's 108 Media to Distribute Korean Toon Leafie
Toronto-based 108 Media Group has picked up distribution rights for the Korean hit animated feature Leafie: A Hen Into the Wild for Canada, U.S., Australia, U.K., and New Zealand from Finecut.  Leafie also sold to German-speaking territories through Ascot Elit and Brazil’s Conquest Filmes.  (animation Magazine, November 28, 2011)

Korean Documentary Wins Top Prize at IDFA 2011
Korean documentary Planet of Snail won the top prize at the world’s largest documentary film festival in the Netherlands on Saturday, becoming the first Asian film to win the award.  (The Korea Herald, November 27, 2011)

Kim Starts Film Grad School at Dankook Univ.
Busan International Film Festival’s founding and honorary director Kim Dong-ho is launching a graduate school specializing in film contents at Dankook University in South Korea.  Starting in the first semester of 2012 which starts in March, the graduate school will admit 25 students to teach them in the fields of directing, producing, and screenwriting.  (KOBIZ, November 25, 2011)

Journals of Musan and Arirang Win at Tokyo Filmex
The 12th Tokyo Filmex awarded its Special Jury Prize and $8,000 of Kodak film stock to Park Jung-bum’s The Journals of Musan and the Agnes B Audience Award to Kim Ki-duk’s Arirang.  Park’s feature film debut The Journals of Musan has won a raft of awards since its world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) last year where it picked up the New Currents and International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) awards.  (KOBIZ, November 29, 2011) 

Hello Ghost Walks Through Walls, Opens in China
Korean comedy Hello Ghost became the third South Korean film this year to get a theatrical release behind the Great Wall of distribution barriers in China when it opened Nov. 24.  Mega Films, which is in charge of Hello Ghost’s Chinese distribution, released the film on about 4,000 screens in Shanghai, Beijing and other cities large and small.  (KOBIZ, November 29, 2011)

Korean Cinema on the Park in Sydney: Controversial Classics
Hey Sydney! You like free movies don’t you?  Yeah, you do.  If you also like Korean cinema, and listening to a series of guest speakers (including us!), then why not check out the KCO’s Cinema on the Park series?  On every Thursday night throughout the year, the current program is Controversial Classics. It’s a bit saucy!  (The Reel Bits, November 29, 2011)

Korean Film Week in Cape Town
The Cape Town leg of the Korean Film Week will take place at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cinema Nouveau from 5 to 11 December.  Organised by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, the Korean Film Week is currently running in Pretoria at Brooklyn Cinema Nouveau until 4 December.  Films shown at the festival include Scandal Makers (2008), Le Grand Chef (2007), Take Off (2009), Beyond The Years (2007), and A Barefoot Dream.  (Screen Africa, November 30, 2011)

Korean Film Archive: Theater, Museum, and Library
Long before Korean film developed its indie rep for extreme violence (Lady Vengeance, 2005), dark sexuality (The Housemaid, 2010) and swallowing live octopus (Oldboy, 2003), there was a golden era of bouffants and pensive romance that has since been forgotten.  Forgotten by everyone that is, except by cinematic treasure hunters combing the vaults of the Korean Film Archive (KOFA).  (CNN Go, November 30, 2011)

Funimation Adds Live-Action Korean Athena: Goddess of War Film
The North American distributor Funimation acquired the rights to distribute the movie spinoff of the South Korean espionage television series Athena: Goddess of War.  Distribution rights were also sold to China's New View TV & Media and Germany's Tiberius Films.  (Anime News Network, November 23, 2011)

Pioneering 'Personal' Documentary Attempts to Break Down Prejudice
On Nov. 19 at Art Space C in Jeju City roughly 40 people, mainly Westerners, were on hand to watch Miracle on Jongno Street, the first Korean documentary about homosexual men.  In his debut as director, Lee Hyuk-sang has created a film that shows the daily lives of four gay Korean men living in a society that has yet to accept them as equals.  (The Jeju Weekly, November 26, 2011)

Now Is The Time To Buy Oldboy, Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance And Sympathy For Lady Vengeance
Pallisades Tartan are selling Blu-rays of Chan Wook Park’s superb Vengeance Trilogy – Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), Oldboy (2003) and Sympathy For Lady Venegance (2005) – from their Amazon store at the wonderful price of $17.99 for the set. That’s less than $6 per film.  (Bleeding Cool, November 24, 2011)

Actor Jang Keun-suk Makes $1M Donation to Hanyang University
Actor Jang Keun-suk, 24, made an anonymous 1.2 billion won donation on Nov. 22 to Hanyang University, where he is currently enrolled.  The donation, which he did not announce to university officials, was revealed on Nov. 24 through the university website’s automated system that posts the name and donation amount.  Jang is currently a senior at Hanyang University, majoring in theater and film studies.  (The Hankyoreh, November 24, 2011)


My Way Documents Korean Soldier in the Battle of Normandy
It all started with the photograph of a young Korean man.  Drafted into the Japanese army [under the Japanese Colonial Rule] and then dragged off by the Soviet military, he was captured again after being sent to fight in German uniform in the fierce Battle of Normandy during the Second World War in 1944.  Seeing a documentary about the photograph at the National Archives in the United States, Director Kang Je-gyu got goosebumps.  (The Hankyoreh, November 26, 2011)

Kim Hye-sun Ditches Innocent Image with Saucy New Role
Kim Hye-sun (42), once known for her innocent image, is heating up the silver screen with her new movie Perfect Partner.  She became a teen sensation after debuting as a model for TV ads but retired from show business after getting married.  As she periodically returned to acting in subsequent years, she opted for roles that suited her age, often portraying a middle-aged mother.  (The Chosun Ilbo, November 26, 2011)

Korean-American Director Rediscovers Roots
Tammy Chu was adopted by an American family at the age of nine and raised in rural New York state. She never saw another Korean until she went to college.  "I remember what my birth parents looked like, but I forgot how to speak Korean and memories of Korean culture also disappeared from my mind," she recalls.  (The Chosun Ilbo, November 28, 2011)

Director Explores My Father’s House
It took making a film for director Kang Yu Ga-ram to understand her father’s life.  The two did not share much in common to begin with.  Her father is a firm supporter of the conservative Grand National Party; KangYu has worked with progressive NGOs and film production houses.  He spent most of his life on construction sites; she obtained her master’s degree in women’s studies.  (The Korea Herald, November 28, 2011)

Doctor-Filmmaker Probes Capitalist Exploitation in Medical World
A doctor has stepped up as an ombudsman for patients who cannot afford proper treatment due to what she calls the “capitalist exploitation of the medical world” and has made a movie to make sure her voice is heard.  White Jungle by occupational environmental physician Song Yoon-hee has been creating a buzz online, even before its theatrical release Thursday, as it documents the darker side of the current healthcare system.   (The Korea Times, November 29, 2011)


Life Is Peach (aka Ashamed - eng sub)



(Modern Korean Cinema, November 28, 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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