London Korean Film Festival 2018: Documentary Fortnight

Another World We Are Making

The London Korean Film Festival has always made a space for documentary in its packed out programme but for this year’s edition they’ve decided to go a little further and give it a spotlight of its own with two weekends dedicated to the art. On August 11/12, and 18/19, six short and feature lengths films will be screened with directors Kim Dong-won and Song Yun-hyeok making an appearance to present their work.

11th August – Birkbeck Cinema

11.30am: A Slice Room

slice room still 1

Song Yun-hyeok examines the social reality behind the prosperous facade of contemporary Korean society through the lives of those living in “slice rooms”. Director Song Yun-hyeok will also be in conversation with Nam In Young following the screening.

2.30pm: The Sanggyedong Olympics / The 6 Day Struggle at the Myeongdong

6 day struggle

Kim Dong-won’s 1988 documentary Sanggyedong Olympics follows the resistance movement towards urban regeneration amongst a community north of Seoul who had been unfairly evicted from their homes without proper compensation or adequate time to find new accommodation. Kim planned to stay only one day but ended up living amongst the community for three years.

The 6 Day Struggle at the Myeongdong Cathedral, completed during 1996-7, looks back at the pivotal 1987 sit-in which became a catalyst for the June democracy movement.

Following the two short docs, Kim Dong-won will also be in conversation with Nam In Young.

12th August – Birkbeck Cinema 

1.30pm: Repatriation 

repatriation still 1

In what many consider his masterpiece, Kim Dong-won examines the lives of the “unconverted” – North Korean “spies” who refuse to renounce their communist beliefs despite longterm imprisonment in the South. Refused the possibility of returning to the North on release, most were left without support in South Korea facing economic hardship and social stigma, dependent on solidarity networks to help them integrate into society. Kim follows two such men over a decade as they try to rebuild their lives in the fluctuating political climate of the ’90s.

The film will be followed by a conversation with Kim Dong-won chaired by Chris Berry.

4.45pm: Roundtable 

A roundtable panel discussion chaired by Professor Chris Berry discussing the Korean independent documentary scene from the late ’80s to the present. Nam In Young of Dongseo University will provide an overview of filmmaking collectives within the sociopolitical history of South Korea while directors Kim Dong-won and Song Yun-hyeok will be on hand to offer their personal experiences.

18th August – Korean Cultural Centre

3pm: Soseongri 

SKOREA-FILM-DIPLOMACY-DEFENCEPark Bae-il’s Soseongri follows a community of elderly farmers facing rural depopulation problems who find themselves in conflict with the police when the decision is taken to place the THAAD anti-aircraft system in their village.

19th August – Korean Cultural Centre

3pm: Jung Il-woo, My Friend 

Jung Il-woo, My Friend 

Kim Dong-won’s most recent film pays tribute to North American Jesuit priest, Jung Il-woo, who dedicated his life to improving the lives of the poor in South Korea.

All the events are free to attend but tickets must be booked in advance via the links above. Full details for all the films are available via the official website, and you can keep up with all the latest news via the festival’s  TwitterFacebookFlickrInstagram and YouTube channels

Summer Explorers! 2018 – Japan Foundation London Free Screening Series Returns Aug. 12&18

summer explorers

Following their announcement of a “Pre-Summer Explorers” series of free film screenings, The Japan Foundation London has now announced the main event which will take place on 12th and 18th of August at the Courthouse Hotel and Regent Street Cinemas.

Sunday 12th August, Courthouse Hotel Cinema

2pm / 6.40pm – His Master’s Voice

HIs Master's Voice still 1

A lowly rakugoka forced to give up his dreams returns home only to discover a new purpose through teaching rakugo to a sad little boy.

4.15pm – Giovanni’s Island

Giovanni's Island still 1Heart rending animation inspired by Kenji Miyazawa’s classic Night on the Galactic Railroad. Brothers Junpei and Kanta face the loss of their home when the northern island of Shikotan is reclaimed by Russian troops in the aftermath of the second world war.

Saturday 18th August, Regent Street Cinema

2.30pm – Chieri and Cherry

Chieri and Cherry still 1Charming puppet animation in which Chieri, who has recently lost her father, develops an intense bond with her stuffed toy, Cherry. Travelling to her grandmother’s house for her father’s funeral, Chieri experiences a fantastic adventure which helps her to cope with grief and fear of the future.

3.50pm – Cat Samurai

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A mercenary ronin accepts a commission from dog loving yakuza to wipe out the chief pet of a cat loving clan but on being faced with the adorable creature cannot go through with it!

5.50pm – Oshin

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Retelling of the classic ’80s TV drama covering Oshin’s difficult childhood. 7-year-old Oshin is sold away from her poor family and sent to work in a lumber shop where she experiences cruel injustices, finally being falsely accused of stealing. Running away, Oshin ends up in the mountains living with a kind old man and a deserter from the army who begins to teach her how to read and write.

All the screenings are free to attend but must be booked in advance. You can find more information about the screening series on the Japan Foundation’s official website and eflyer and you can keep up with all the latest news via their Twitter Account and Facebook page.

Pre-Summer Explorers – Japan Foundation London’s Free Screening Series Returns

summer explorers

Japan Foundation London is back for an additional slice of seasonal fun with another series of free film screenings taking place on 4, 5, and 11th August. All the screenings are free to attend but must be booked in advance.

4th August, Soho Hotel Cinema

5.15pm : NHK WORLD-JAPAN Double Bill (Part 1)

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Two NHK documentaries focussing on traditional subjects. A Tale of Love & Honour: Life in Gion takes a look at the fiercely traditional world of Kyoto’s tea house society, while Living Ninja Legend Masaaki Hatsumi explores the life of an 84-year-old ninja master.

House 

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Nobuhiko Obayashi’s famed psychedlic musical horror comedy in which a group of young women decide to take a trip to the country only to find themselves besieged by man eating pianos and creepy cats!

5th August, Courthouse Hotel Cinema

2.15pm: Summer Wars

Summer Wars still 1

Mamoru Hosoda’s breakthrough feature follows the summer adventures of maths genius and moderator of online world Oz Kenji Koiso as he is unexpectedly invited on a trip with his crush, Natsuki, only to be expected to play the part of her fake fiancé whilst also dealing with a vast internet-based conspiracy.

4.30pm: NHK WORLD-JAPAN Double Bill (Part 2)

telephone of the wind

Another two NHK docs: My Small Steps from Hiroshima tells the story of  anti-nuclear campaigner Kaoru Ogura, while The Phone of the Wind: Whispers to Lost Families looks at the disconnected telephone which bereaved families use to call their loved ones lost in the 2011 tsunami.

6.40pm: Kikujiro

Kikujiro still 1A summery treat indeed – Takeshi Kitano’s whimsical gem sees a grumpy middle-aged man forced to take a lonely little boy on a roadtrip to track down his long absent mum whilst also dealing with his own complicated family legacies. Review.

11th August, Soho Hotel Cinema

2.15pm: Only Yesterday 

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A disillusioned young woman from Tokyo decides to take a trip to the country and finds herself meditating on her past selves in an underseen gem from the late Isao Takahata.

4.40pm: Napping Princess 

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Sleepy high schooler Kokone should be focussing on her university entrance exams or making the most of her last summer holiday but finds herself becoming increasingly entrenched in the strange goings on in her dreamland. Kenji Kamiyama makes his first foray into family animation with this charming coming of tale. Review.

7pm: Mitsuko Delivers

Mitsuko delivers horizontal posterMitsuko, a cheerful woman who likes to help people, has returned to Japan pregnant, broke, and alone after being abandoned by her American boyfriend. Going where the wind blows her, Mitsuko ends up returning to her home town and letting it all hang out while she solves everyone else’s problems in one of Yuya Ishii’s early whimsical comedies.

All the screenings are free to attend but must be booked in advance. On 11th August The Japan Foundation will also be running a brief Japanese language taster session from 3.30 – 6.30pm at Soho Hotel Cinema. You can find more information about the screening series on the Japan Foundation’s official website and eflyer and you can keep up with all the latest news via their Twitter Account and Facebook page.

Korean Film Nights 2018: Korean Novels On Screen

Kim Ki-young earth posterAfter a brief pause, the Korean Cultural Centre London is set to resume its series of free film screenings with a brand new strand celebrating literary adaptations. Running from March to June, Korean Film Nights 2018: Korean Novels on Screen will showcase a diverse selection of films inspired by books from the “literary films” of the golden age to the recent hits of today.

29th March – Earth 

Earth-02Housemaid director Kim Ki-young adapts Yi Kwang-su’s 1932 novel of resistance in which a poor boy studies law in Seoul and marries the daughter of the landowner he once served only to decide to return and help his home village suffering under Japanese oppression.

Also screening at Deptford Cinema, 16th April, 7pm.

12th April – The Descendants of Cain

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Yu Hyun-mok (Aimless Bullet) adapts Hwang Sun-won’s autobiographical anti-communist novel in which a struggle over the means of production plays out against an impossible love story between the estranged wife of a communist agitator and the noble hearted founder of the school the communists have commandeered as their base.

26th April – White Badge

White Badge still 1Directed by Chung Ji-young, White Badge adapts Anh Junghyo’s autobiographical Vietnam novel in which a traumatised writer (played by Ahn Sung-ki) is forced to address his wartime past when an old comrade comes back into his life.

10th May – A Petal

a petal horizontalAdapting the novel by Choe Yun, Jang Sun-woo examines the legacy of the Gwangju Massacre through the story of a little girl who refuses to leave the side of a vulgar and violent man no matter how poorly he treats her.

Also screening at Deptford Cinema, 22nd May, 7pm.

24th May – The Old Garden

the old garden still 1Adapted from a novel by writer and activist Hwang Sok-young, Im Sang-soo’s The Old Garden follows an activist released from prison after 17 years who cannot forget the memory of a woman who helped him when he was a fugitive in the mountains.

7th June – The Unfair

The unfair horizontalThe debut feature from Kim Sung-je, the Unfair is an adaptation of Son Aram’s courtroom thriller which draws inspiration from the Yongsan Tragedy in which residents protesting redevelopment were forcibly evicted and several lives were lost including one of a police officer.

Also screening at Deptford Cinema, 19th June, 7pm.

28th June – My Brilliant Life + Q&A with author Kim Ae-ran

my brilliant life still 1An adaptation of the novel by Kim Ae-ran who will also be present for a Q&A, E J-yong’s My Brilliant Life stars Gang Dong-won and Song Hye-kyo as teenage parents raising a son who turns out to have a rare genetic condition which causes rapid ageing.

All of the screenings take place at the Korean Cultural Centre at 7pm and are free to attend but must be booked in advance via the links above. You can keep up to date with all the latest screening news via the Korean Cultural Centre and London Korean Film Festival websites and be sure to follow the festival on Twitter, Facebook, FlickrInstagram and YouTube channels for the most up to date information.

Tickets are also now on sale for the first of the 2018 Teaser Screenings for the upcoming London Korean Film Festival – Be With You which takes place at Picturehouse Central on 25th April at 9pm.

Abertoir 2017 to Screen Vampire Clay, Tokyo Ghoul, The Mimic

Abertoir 2017 posterWales’s premier horror festival, Abertoir, returns for 2017 with another varied selection of chillers old and new. This year there are quite a few East Asian titles on offer including festival favourites Mon Mon Mon Monsters, The Sleep Curse, and The Mimic.

Meatball Machine Kodoku

Meatball Machine Kodoku still 1Another addition to the Meatball Machine universe, Kodoku follows a debt collector recently diagnosed with terminal cancer who realises his condition makes him immune to the mind control of invading alien Necroborgs. More splatter action from Yoshihiro Nishimura.

Screening Tuesday 14th November at Midnight.

Mon Mon Mon Monsters

Mon Mon Mon Monsters still 1.jpgA group of horrible kids capture a strange creature and then mercilessly torture it in Giddens Ko’s surprising foray into the world of teen horror.

Screening Wednesday 15th November, 5.30pm.

The Housemaid

The Housemaid (vietname) still 1Set in 1953, Derek Nguyen’s The Housemaid is a classic gothic horror story in which an orphaned Vietnamese country girl, Linh, finds work on a plantation and later love with the owner of the estate, Captain Sebastien Laurent. Resented by the other members of staff, Linh’s world is further shaken by Sebastien’s late wife and some very strange goings on…

Screening Sunday 19th November, 12pm.

The Mimic

The Mimic still 1Hee-yeon moves to a small village near Mt. Jang with her husband after their son goes missing. Bonding with a little girl who seems to be lost herself, Hee-yeon soon becomes embroiled in the strange events occurring around the mountain.

Screening Friday 17th November, 3.45pm

The Sleep Curse

the sleep curse’90s neurologist Lam Sik-ka (Anthony Wong) can’t sleep. Contacted by a fellow insomniac former girlfriend, he begins investigating and finds the answer lies all the way back in the Japanese occupation…

Screening Thursday 16th November, 5pm

Tokyo Ghoul

Tokyo Ghoul still 1.jpgAn adaptation of the manga by Sui Ishida, Tokyo Ghoul is the story of Ken Kaneki who wakes up in hospital to discover he’s been given transplants from a “Ghoul” and is now part Ghoul himself which means he needs to eat human flesh to survive…

Screening Wednesday 15th November, 8pm

Vampire Clay

vampire clay still 1Students at a remote art school start mysteriously disappearing, could the creepy clay statues possibly be to blame?

Screening Wednesday 15th November, 12.15

The Abertoir Film Festival takes place in Aberystwyth from 14 – 19 November, 2017. Passes for the festival (£60) are currently available from Aberystwyth Arts Centre in person or by phone with individual tickets released at a later date.

You can keep up with all the latest Abertoir news via the official website, Facebook Page, Twitter Account, and Flickr.

Archipelago: Exploring the Landscape of Contemporary Japanese Women Filmmakers

©Little More Co.

wild berries posterFollowing the last series of free film screenings which took place over the summer, the Japan Foundation London is back this winter for a season of films dedicated to female filmmakers. Archipelago: Exploring the Landscape of Contemporary Japanese Women Filmmakers features two narrative films and a documentary as well as a panel discussion chaired by Kate Taylor with Jasper Sharp, Alejandra Armendáriz Hernández, and the season’s curator Irene Silvera.

Bare Essence of Life

©Little More Co.Released in 2009, the second feature from Satoko Yokohama stars Kenichi Matsuyama as Yojin – an Aomori farm boy who lives on a slightly different plane of existence to everyone else. When a pretty school teacher (played by Kumiko Aso) arrives from Tokyo, Yojin becomes determined to win her heart, whatever the eventual costs may be!

Screening at Courthouse Cinema on 30th November, 6.30pm.

Death of a Japanese Salesman

ending note still 1.jpgAlso known as Ending Note, Mami Sunada’s documentary follows the last days of her father, a lifelong salaryman who retired aged 67 only to be diagnosed with terminal cancer soon after. Realising that he had only a short time left to live, Sunada began preparing for his death, creating his own bucket list and thinking about the “ending note” (a kind of personal testament) that he would leave behind for his family.

Screening at Courthouse Cinema, 1st December 6.30pm

Wild Berries

wild berries still 1Miwa Nishikawa whose The Long Excuse has been doing the festival rounds this year began her career as a student staff member on Koreeda’s Afterlife before ADing on Yoshimitsu Morita’s Black House and then again for Koreeda on Distance. Released in 2003 and produced by Koreeda, Wild Berries is her debut feature and neatly mixes the influences of both her mentors in an anarchic family drama. The Akechis had been getting along just fine until prodigal son Shuji decided to return bringing a few chickens home to roost with him.

Screening at Rich Mix, 2nd December 12pm

Panel Discussion

©Little More Co.Directly after the screening of Wild Berries, there will be a panel discussion examining the rise of female filmmakers over the last 15 years. Chaired by Kate Taylor – East Asian programmer for the BFI London Film Festival, the panel will also feature film scholar Jasper Sharp (co-founder of Midnight Eye, author of Behind the Pink Curtain), film researcher Alejandra Armendáriz Hernández, and the season’s curator, Irene Silvera.

The Panel Discussion takes place at Rich Mix, 2nd December, 2.30pm.

In conjunction with the series, there will also be a screening of Naoko Ogigami’s Rent-a-Cat as part of the regular free screenings programme at the Japanese Embassy on 22nd November. Tickets are free and can be booked by the usual methods following the instructions on the Embassy’s Filmshow page.

More information can be found on Japan Foundation London’s website – each of the screenings is free to attend but tickets must be booked in advance.

You can also keep up to date with all the latest Japan Foundation events via their official Twitter account and Facebook Page.

Tears and Laughter: Women in Japanese Melodrama

blue sky maiden stillRunning at BFI Southbank through October and November, Tears and Laughter: Women in Japanese Melodrama aims to showcase the changing roles of women in Japanese cinema in the pre-war and post-war eras through a series of films starring some of the best known actresses of the time including Ayako Wakao (who features on the poster in her first role working with director Yasuzo Masumura in Blue Sky Maiden), ’30s megastar and later director Kinuyo Tanaka, Ozu’s muse Setsuko Hara, Rashomon’s Machiko Kiyo, wife and muse of Kiju (Yoshishige) Yoshida Mariko Okada,  and the iconic Hideko Takamine who began as a child star and went on to work with most of the age’s finest directors.

Season Introduction: Women in Japanese Melodrama

The season will kick off with an introductory lecture on 17th October featuring contributions from Alexander Jacoby and Alejandra Armendáriz-Hernandez who will discuss some of the actresses featured in the season.

Osaka Elegy + Women of the Night

osaka elegyStarring Mizoguchi’s frequent leading lady Isuzu Yamada, Osaka Elegy centres on a switchboard operator who finds herself trapped in a ruinous relationship with her boss in an effort to save her father who has ruined himself through gambling debts.  16mm. Now screening on blu-ray due to poor quality of 16mm print.

women of the night stillWomen of the Night, completed in 1948, will screen along side Osaka Elegy (1936) and stars Kinuyo Tanaka in a tale of two sisters trying to survive in the ruined Osaka one of whom is a war widow and the other dangerously involved with a drugs smuggler. 35mm.

Wedding Ring

(c) Shochiku Co., LtdKinuyo Tanaka also stars in Keisuke Kinoshita’s 1950 melodrama Wedding Ring. Starring opposite Toshiro Mifune, Tanaka plays a housewife who travels back and fore from the seaside, where her sickly husband convalesces, to Tokyo where she runs her family’s jewellery store. A chance encounter with a strapping doctor (Mifune) on a train has unforeseen consequences as the pair grow closer and the husband begins to realise that he cannot provide the happiness his wife is seeking. 35mm.

Clothes of Deception

「偽れる盛装」(C)KADOKAWA1951Clothes of Deception is directed by Kozaburo Yoshimura who was the subject (along with Kaneto Shindo) of the BFI’s previous Japanese director retrospective in 2012 in which the film was also screened. Rashomon’s Machiko Kyo stars opposite Yasuko Fujita as a geisha in Kyoto’s historic Gion district whose life contrasts strongly with that of her sister who works for the tourist board. 35mm.

The Mistress (aka Wild Geese)

toyoda wild geese still 1Shiro Toyoda’s melodrama stars Hideko Takamine as a divorced woman who becomes the mistress of an elderly money lender to support her father but dares to dream of a happier future after falling for a young student. 35mm.

An Inlet of Muddy Water

inlet of muddy water still 2Tadashi Imai’s adaptation of a number of stories by 19th century writer Ichiyo Higuchi came top in Kinema Junpo’s best of list for 1953 and features three stories of women suffering at the hands of men. 35mm.

The Eternal Breasts

eternal breasts still 1Kinuyo Tanaka, one of Japan’s great actresses, was not the nation’s first female director as she is sometimes described, but she was the first to have a career as a film director. The Eternal Breasts is Tanaka’s third directorial effort (following Love Letter and The Moon has Risen) and tells the story of tanka poet Fumiko Nakajo who passed away from breast cancer in 1954 at only 31 years old. 35mm.

Floating Clouds 

floating clouds still 1Hideko Takamine and Masayuki Mori play two former lovers cast adrift in the new post-war world world where their love is both impossible and impossible to escape. Naruse’s melancholy melodrama is the story of a woman who strives for self-determination while chasing a man who craves only respectability, as trapped and confused as her still divided nation. 35mm.

Elegy of The North

elegy of the north stilll 1Masayuki Mori stars again in another romantic melodrama this time for Heinosuke Gosho (Where Chimneys are Seen), opposite Yoshiko Kuga who falls for Mori’s conflicted architect as an escape from her moribund marriage while Mori’s wife, played by Mieko Takamine, is having an affair with a young student. 16mm.

Tokyo Twilight

tokyo twilight still 1Among the darkest of Ozu’s post-war movies, Tokyo Twilight is a less forgiving family drama in which Setsuko Hara plays the older of two sisters who has returned home from a failing marriage with her little girl in tow only to find out that her unmarried student younger sister is facing an unwanted pregnancy. 35mm.

The Blue Sky Maiden (aka The Cheerful Girl)

blue sky maiden still 2Blue Sky Maiden, Masumura’s second film, is his first in colour and his first to star the radiant Ayako Wakao who would later become something like his muse. Light and bright and youthful, Blue Sky Maiden is not without the Masumura bite in its tale of an illegitimate child deposited in her cowardly father’s home and among his unpleasant family but bearing all of her sorrows with a cheerful determination which resolutely refuses to allow them to rob her of her happiness. 35mm.

An Affair at Akitsu (aka Akitsu Springs)

akitsu springs still 1Soon after An Affair at Akitsu, also known as Akitsu Springs, Mariko Okada would marry the film’s director, Kiju (Yoshishige) Yoshida, and the pair would go on create a series of “anti-melodramas” which adopted typical melodrama storylines but shot them in a deliberately detached manner. An Affair at Akitsu is Yoshida’s attempt at Shochiku’s most representative genre but, aided by the astonishing performance of Okada, he conjures a deeply felt meditation on post-war malaise as its lovers find themselves unable to escape the false paradise of Akitsu Springs. 35mm.

The Shape of Night

Shape of the night still 1Recently restored, Noburu Nakamura’s The Shape of Night stars Miyuki Kuwano as a young woman forced into prostitution by a no good boyfriend. 35mm.

Tears and Laughter: Women in Japanese Melodrama runs at BFI Southbank from 17th October to 29th November and tickets are already on general sale.