London Korean Film Festival 2018 Preview: It’s that time of year when the nights are drawing in and one of our favourite cinematic events is just round the corner: the London Korean Film Festival… which also goes on tour outside the capital straight after, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re near Belfast, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Manchester or Nottingham…
Anyway, what’s in store and what’s unmissable this time? You probably don’t need me to tell you that what makes this festival even more compelling is that many of the key talents – both directors and actors – attend the screenings and engage in detailed Q&A sessions afterwards. So get your highlighters out and your diaries opened for November 1st-14th if you’re in London, and 16th-25th November for those other lucky UK cities.
The Opening Gala film is Microhabitat (above), the bold feature debut from director Jeon Go-woon, which looks compellingly different in style and content. The Closing Gala feature is The Return, from Malene Choi, about a Korean woman who was adopted as a child by a Danish family and now returns to seek out her birth parents – made more poignant by the director herself being adopted.
There are some interesting strands that gather films old and new under various umbrella themes, but it might be best to just tick off the ones that float your boat whatever their vintage.
It’s always fascinating to look back on the early promise of directors to see how they’ve evolved. Jealousy Is My Middle Name from 2002 was the highly-acclaimed first feature from Park Chan-ok; 2004’s This Charming Girl was the debut feature from Lee Yoon-ki, and Breathless was Yang Ik-june’s 2008 debut – and he also stars in it (as he does in 2017’s The Poet And The Boy, also at this year’s festival). The Journals Of Musan, from 2011, was Park Jung-bu -m’s all-too-credible debut, tackling the difficulty for defectors from North Korea, and Park even takes one of the main roles – and his 2014 feature, Alive, shows how he’s continued to explore tough subjects. Bleak Night, the debut from director Yoon Sung-hyun in 2010 is about a father’s quest to discover why his son kil -led himself.
There are loads of UK Premieres happening, too, like Moon So-ri’s debut The Running Actress, with Moon playing herself (best known for her star turn in The Handmaiden), and letting us see how she lives in the glaring spotlight of fame. More UK Premieres include Possible Faces, from Lee Kang-hyun, which shows the fallout for a couple when they split up, and Mothers, from Lee Dong-eun, plus the European Premiere of Jung Hyung-suk’s beautiful black and white feature, The Land Of Seonghye.
The Strand, renamed Cinema Now, is full of recent hits and stacked with yet more UK Premieres. Check out Jung Ji-woo’s legal drama Heart Blackened (above), Cho Kyu-jang’s thriller The Witness, Yim Soon-rye’s Little Forest (sourced from a manga series), and Choo Chang-min’s Seven Years Of Night, based on the novel by Jung Yoo-jung, who is doing the Q&A after. And tucked away in the Indie Firepower strand is a European Premiere for Kim In-seon’s debut feature, >Adulthood, which is full of promise.
And there’s much more besides… so take pot luck and get hooked on the delights of Korean cinema!
Book your tickets and check out the full line-up here.