In its 13th year, the London Korean Film Festival 2018 (LKFF) has a host of activities …
… as well as screenings between 1 – 14 November in London before touring across the country at the end of the month. Strands include; A Slice of Everyday Life, Cinema Now, Women’s Voices, Indie Firepower, Contemporary Classics, Artists Video, Animation and Shorts and highlights of UK and International premieres and director Q&A’s.
The festival opened on November 1st with a delightful film and Q&A featuring female Director Jeon Go-woon’s ‘Microhabitat‘. The film follows ‘Mi-so‘, which translated means smile, is our leading lady who navigates the harsh reality of being young, female and out priced from living in her city, Seoul, with just that. Famous Korean model Esom (née Lee So-young) is a wonderful casting choice for this compassionate, independent, resilient woman.
The film also stars Steven Yeun, well known for his role as ‘Glenn‘ in ‘The Walking Dead‘ and more recently in Boots Riley’s debut ‘Sorry to Bother You‘ alongside Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson and Omari Hardwick. Yeun is perhaps one of a handful of few high profile Korean actors known to the Western audience. Both he and American-Korean TV actress Jamie Chueng have recently spoken about the lack of unrestrictive roles in Hollywood for Asian actors (Cheung was referring to being cast in the smash film of this year, ‘Crazy Rich Asians‘).
Korean movies are often described as having stunning visuals but being uber-violent, typically war/conflict focused and having a strong patriarchal gaze. Its burgeoning domestic industry was built on action movies films such as ‘Shiri‘ directed by Kang Je-Gyu, which grossed 4.6 million domestically alone from 1999. Which was the beginning of the Korean market joining the global top 10, now being worth close to $2 billion; like any market, if a formula works it is often repeated. However, while Korean culture has been quietly becoming global with the growth of K-pop and K-music, we are also seeing the appreciation of films that are pushing boundaries in what is affectionately know as ‘Hallyuwood‘ (the informal term to describe the Korean film industry).
We are seeing an increase in Korean filmmakers choosing to tackle subjects that would have once been seen as taboo such as Kim Bo-ram’s ‘For Vagina’s Sake‘ about menstruation, ‘Hit the Night‘ where a woman quizzes a man about his sexual habits for “research” purposes, the premiere of the documentary ‘Grown Up‘ set in a care home for people with severe mental disabilities, ‘A Blind Alley‘ on two schoolgirls falling in love and ‘Testimony‘ which confronts toxic masculinity at work.
Korea does have an interesting history of production innovation for screen; if you are an animation geek you may know the Korean company Akom Production has been animating ‘The Simpsons‘ at its studio since it premiered as a TV series in 1989, a segue into saying it’s great to see that LKFF is also showcasing animations alongside New Wave films and acknowledging contemporary classics. This is a unique and vibrant festival with something for everyone.
The London Korean Film festival runs until November 14th 2018
Where to watch:
London venues: Picturehouse Central, Regent Street Cinema, ICA, Phoenix Cinema, Close-up, LUX, Rio Cinema, Birkbeck’s Institute of Moving Image, Kingston University, National Film & Television School, British Museum and KCCUK.
UK tour – until 25 November 2018: Glasgow Film Theatre, Edinburgh Film House, Manchester HOME, Sheffield Showroom, Nottingham Broadway Cinema, Belfast Queen’s Film Theatre
Facebook: @theLKFF | Twitter: @koreanfilmfest | Instagram: @london_korean_film_festival
Find out more and book tickets here.