Friday, May 6, 2011

JIFF 2011 Part Two - Offending Directors And Culinary Curses

For Other JIFF 2011 posts please click here.

JIFF 2011

I’ve been interested in the work of Park Chan-kyong ever since I heard he was Park Chan-wook’s brother and that they were working on a short film called 파란만장 (Night Fishing) together. Call me shallow, but Park Chan-wook is one of my favourite directors and I a firm believer that genius can be hereditary, so the opportunity to see Park Chan-kyong’s first feature length film could not be missed. I had already seen his short film 비행 (Flying) at the Korean Rhapsody exhibition that is still running at the Leeum Museum. It was an interesting piece of work, but I was curious to see how he would fill out two hours worth of film.

다시 태어나고 싶어요, 안양에 (Anyang, Paradise City) turned out to be an enjoyable semi-fictional, semi-documentary investigation into Anyang City’s history, focusing on a fire at the Greenhill Factory. Park Chan-kyong plays a version of himself as onscreen director, whilst two actresses Kim Yeri and Park Min-yeong play his assistants (and as it turns out did actually assist in the making of the film). The film follows their investigation of the fire, their interviews with historians, authors and shaman and also highlights some traditional performances from the area. I’d hesistate to call it a feature film, but would rather describe it as media art. In the way that Matthew Barney makes feature length art pieces, Park Chan-kyong has done something in a similar vein.

JIFF 2011
Q&A with Park Chan-kyong (centre).

After the screening Park Chan-kyong and Kim Yeri had a brief Q&A session with the audience who remained. I may do a separate post on that session at a later date.

As we left the screening room, I said hello to Mr. Park, said how much I enjoyed the film and pointed out that some of the subtitles in his film had mistakes. He was not best pleased and excused himself for a cigarette. It’s good to know that I can accidentally offend a director with just a few words...

JIFF 2011
Found at Jeonju station.

Trying to forget my faux-pas, I brushed away copious tears and sniveling, made my way to the next screening...

Film number two was Kim Jae-hwan’s 트루맛쇼 (The True Taste Show), a rather entertaining investigation into the world of Korean reality television, again at Megabox. Kim and his crew took it upon themselves to examine the tv shows that recommend restaurants to the public. They set up their own fake restaurant and found out that it’ll normally cost you 10 million won if you want your place to appear on tv, sometimes more or less depending on the grade of celebrity you want come visit and pretend they are a regular customer.

JIFF 2011
Director Kim Jae-hwan alongside Park Na-rim and Ki Hyo-young at the Q&A.

The documentary is very funny, very sharp and pulls no punches in exposing the reality of reality television. I fear I may be one of only a few people who get to see it though, as the director talked about possible lawsuits in the Q&A afterwards. He said they planned to rent cinemas in Seoul and screen the film, I hope they manage to do it and that audiences flock to see this expose of televisual malpractice. Quite possibly the best film of the festival for me, certainly the most surprising.

Dying for dinner after seeing so much food on the big screen, I searched for somewhere else to eat. With little time to spare I popped into a dumpling chain restaurant for a rather unsatisfactory plate of 고기 만두 (3,500 won for the taste of salty poor quality food).

JIFF 2011
Salty lumps of disappointment.

Belly rumbling slightly I headed to the third and final screening of the day: Inside Job, the oscar winning documentary detailing the worldwide financial crisis of 2008. This time the film was shown at the rather seedier CGV cinema. I love CGV Yongsan, but the Jeonju branch is rather old and worn, plus the film was badly projected with a fifth of the screen slightly out of focus. Nobody seemed too bothered, nobody complained and the projection stayed that way for the whole film. Meh. Inside Job is enjoyable, but it plays out like a two hour economics lecture from a series of entertaining professors. It’s 95% talking heads and it can get a little tiring at times. Certainly worth watching if you want to confirm how corrupt the banking industry is and how terrible the crisis was, but there’s nothing new to see here except for the humiliation of several important people on camera. There was a Q&A session with a Korean University professor after the film, but I wasn’t in the mood for another lecture.

I was out of CGV by 10.00 and headed back to my rather sordid little room in the love motel. Picked up a couple of beers from a convenience store and watched Scrubs on the fuzzy tv. I slept.

JIFF 2011
HD vision sunglasses? Really?

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