Following a long series of teaser screenings which culminated with Cannes hit The Villainess, the London Korean Film Festival has now revealed the complete lineup for this year’s event which runs from 26th October to 19th November 2017.
The London Korean Film Festival 2017 will open with one of three films released this year by prolific director Hong Sang-soo – The Day After. Another whimsical comedy of manners from Hong, The Day After stars Kim Min-hee as the new girl at a publishing firm completely unaware that she’s taken the place of the previous new girl who has been “let go” after an affair with the boss ended badly.
Closing the festival will be the second film from Kim Dae-hwan who picked up the best new director award at Locarno for this awkward tale of familial disconnection. The First Lap revolves around young couple Ji-young and Su-hyeon who are not married but have been living together for a few years. Discovering they might be about to have a child of their own, the pair decide to try and reconnect with their old families before starting a new one.
Special Focus: Korean Noir, Illuminating the Dark Side of Society
The special focus for this year’s festival is Korean Noir and Korean cinema has certainly had a long and proud history of gritty, existential crime thrillers. Running right through from the ’60s to recent Cannes hit The Merciless, the Korean Noir strand aims to illuminate the dark side of society through its compromised heroes and conflicted villains.
- Black Hair – Lee Man-hee’s 1960s genre hybrid neatly mixes noir with melodrama as a gang boss’ wife is blackmailed after having been raped by one of her husband’s underlings only to be facially disfigured and cast away when her husband learns of her assault. Read the Review.
- The Last Witness – Lee Doo-young’s 1980 mystery thriller follows a police officer’s investigation into the murder of a brewery owner which leads him back to events of 25 years earlier and into the darkest parts of his own soul. Director Lee Doo-young will be in attendance for a Q&A.
- Dead End – Darkly humorous 19 minute short directed by City of Madness’ Kim Sung-soo.
- The Rules of the Game – released in 1994, the second film from Jan Hyun-soo follows a young man who comes to the city to join a gang but ends up selling his girlfriend into prostitution.
- Green Fish – the 1997 debut from the now legendary Lee Chang-dong follows a recently demobbed soldier who returns home to find nothing waiting for him and eventually falls in with gangsters.
- Nowhere to Hide – Lee Myung-se’s experimental 1999 noir stars Ahn Sung-ki as a ruthless gangster.
- Kilimanjaro – The Shameless director Oh Seung-uk’s 2000 debut also stars Ahn Sung-ki as a gangster alongside Park Shin-yang playing a pair of twin brothers one of whom is a criminal and the other a policeman. Director Oh Seung-uk will be in attendance for a Q&A.
- Die bad – Veteran / Battleship Island’s Ryoo Seung-wan made his debut with this 2000 four part crime themed portmanteau film.
- A Bittersweet Life – Kim Ji-woon’s 2005 existential hitman thriller stars Lee Byung-hun as a conflicted mobster.
- A Dirty Carnival – Yoo Ha’s celebrated gangland thriller from 2006
- New World – an all powerful policeman tries to bring down a crime syndicate through underhanded means while an undercover cop begins to wonder if his mission will ever end in Park Hoon-jung’s tense psychological thriller.
- Coin Locker Girl – a baby found in a coin locker gets sold to a gangland organ trafficker who decides to raise her as her own in Han Jun-hee’s dark 2013 drama
- The Merciless – Premiered at Cannes in 2017 Byung Sung-hyun’s The Merciless is a violent thriller in which an undercover cop and the leader of a prison gang team up for gangland domination.
The Noir section will also feature a panel event, Forum on Korean Noir, featuring Eddie Muller (president Film Noir Foundation), Huh Moonyoung (film critic), Last Witness director Lee Doo-young, and Kilimanjaro director Oh Seung-uk.
The best in recent cinema across the previous year ranging from period drama to financial thriller, gangland action, social drama, and horror.
- Come, Together – Shin Dong-il examines the destructive effects of financial pressures on a middle class family.
- Crime City – turf war drama starring Ma Dong-seok. Director Kang Yoon-sung will be present for a Q&A.
- In Between Seasons – Intimate family drama following a mother’s reaction to discovering the relationship between her son and his best friend is closer than she thought.
- Warriors of the Dawn – historical drama set in 1592 in which a group of mercenaries attempt to protect the newly crowned prince on a perilous journey.
- Master – corporate thriller in which a team of fraud specialists led by Gang Dong-won attempt to unmask a dodgy financial guru played by Lee Byung-hun. Read the Review.
- The Mimic – horror movie in which a monster lures children away to eat them by impersonating familiar voices.
Indie Fire Power
Programmed by Tony Rayns, this year’s indie strand has a special focus on documentary filmmaker Jung Yoon-suk who will be attending the festival in person to present his films.
- Non Fiction Diary – 2014 documentary directed by Jung Yoon-suk centring on a notorious clan of serial killing cannibals. Director Jung Yoon-suk will be present for a Q&A
- The White House in My Country – documentary short by Jung Yoon-suk. Director Jung Yoon-suk will be present for a Q&A
- Ho Chi Minh – documentary short by Jung Yoon-suk. Director Jung Yoon-suk will be present for a Q&A
- Bamseom Pirates Inferno – 2017 documentary by Jung Yoon-suk focussing on an underground punk band. Director Jung Yoon-suk will be present for a Q&A
- Merry Christmas Mr. Mo – indie comedy/drama from Lim Dae-hyung in which a dying barber’s only wish is to star in a short film directed by his estranged son.
- A Confession Expecting a Rejection – witty drama following characters on and off screen as they discuss various topics from failed relationships to disappointing film courses.
Focussing on female viewpoints this year’s Women’s Voices strand includes one narrative feature and four short films.
- Jamsil – drama focussing on the lives of two women. Director Lee Wanmin will be present for a Q&A.
- Candle Wave Feminists – an examination of the misogyny hidden inside the campaign to unseat Park Geun-hye Director Kangyu Garam will be present for a Q&A.
- My Turn – 15 minute drama focussing on pregnancy in the workplace.
- Mild Fever – 36 minute drama in which a secret comes between a husband and wife.
- Night Working – 28 minute drama exploring the relationship between a Korean factory worker and a Cambodian migrant.
Classics Revisited: Bae Chang-ho Retrospective
Three films from legendary director Bae Chang-ho each starring Ahn Sung-ki.
- People in the Slum – drama revolving around a single mother who always wears black gloves and has a rebellious son with a tendency to steal things.
- Whale Hunting – a boy gets rejected by his crush and runs away to hunt whales but ends up wandering round with a tramp and helping a mute girl find her voice again.
- The Dream – a monk breaks his vows of chastity, attacks a young woman, leaves the monastery to start a family with her, but never captures her heart.
Workers’ rights and examinations of the Yongsan tragedy in which five civilians and one police officer lost their lives during a protest against redevelopment dominate the feature documentary strand.
- Two Doors – documentary examining the Yongsan tragedy. Director Kim Il-rhan will be present for a Q&A.
- The Remnants – documentary examining the Yongsan tragedy. Director Kim Il-rhan will be present for a Q&A.
- Goodbye My Hero – an unemployed father battles for reinstatement
- Dream of Iron – industrial ship building documentary
Two charming yet very different animated adventures aimed at a younger/family audience.
- Lost in the Moonlight – a shy young girl dreaming of the spotlight gets lost in a fantasy world.
- Franky and Friends: A Tree of Life – Franky and Friends head off on a journey to save the world after nearly destroying it through wastefulness
A selection of shorts from the Mise-en-scène International Short Film Festival.
- Tombstone Refugee – alternative burial drama.
- Home Without Me – a young girl looks for familial love
- Thirsty – a man struggles to makes ends meet
- Between You and Me – behind the scenes comedy drama.
- Dive – drama about a boy’s love of water
- The Insect Woman – centres on a young girl obsessed with insects.
- 2 Nights 3 Days – follows a couple on the eve of their wedding anniversary.
This year’s collaboration with LUX | Artists’ Moving Image focusses on the work of two artists – Lim Minouk and Koo Dong-hee.
- New Town Ghost
- Wrong Question
- Portable Keeper
- The Weight of Hands
- The Possibility of the Half
- S.O.S. – Adoptive Dissensus
- Tragedy Competition
- The King Fish
- Under the Vein: I Spell on You
- What’s Not There
The London Korean Film Festival runs from 26th November to the 19th October at multiple Central London venues before heading out on tour to Glasgow Film Theatre, Manchester HOME, Sheffield Showroom, Nottingham Broadway Cinema, and Belfast Queen’s Film Theatre.
The full programme including details for all the films, screening times and ticketing information will be available on the official website in due course but you can also keep up with all the latest developments via the festival’s Facebook page, Twitter account, Flickr, YouTube and Instagram channels.