A Shout Out for Films at Central Jeju

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Cultural Event – Jeju Film Festival
Date of report: November 19, 2016 (Interviewed between November 12 and 19)
Culture reporter: Lee Min-kyeong (Kim Mi-ryang, Park Kyeong-ho, Park So-hee, O Su-jin, O Yeon-juk)


On November 12, on a late Autumn day, the 12th chapter of the Jeju Film Festival began. Beginning with saying, “I feel solemn to hold a film festival under this national political turmoil,” the opening ceremony screened ‘I, Daniel Blake’, appealing to the audience who were asking themselves a repeated question, “What is a state?” Watching a protest of Daniel Blake against the social welfare system of Great Britain and the story of his neighbors, the audience shed tears, out of sympathy of their desperate poverty and endless frustration.

The Jeju Film Festival was drawn in many different colors. The first was ‘the Korean film landscape’ consisting of five films about the Korean society: Delta Boys, Island of Shadows, A Killer Woman, etc. These films helped me share the ironies and sorrows deeply rooted in our society. The stage greeting featuring Yoon Yeo-jeong who took the main role of ‘The Killer Woman’ offered a memorable moment to the audience.

There were regretful moments, too. The second color of the event, ‘A special screening event of Kim Jee-woon’ prepared a cruise ferry event, which later had to be canceled due to the foggy weather in Shanghai. Despite the momentary regret, the Kim Jee-woon Master Class held in a coffee shop in Jeju City became a big hit, drawing a lot of people. The participants freely talked about 10 keywords ranging from the films the renowned director had made and the actors he had worked with. Screen plays included his most recent work ‘The Age of Shadows’ (which drew more than 7 million viewers), ‘A Tale of Two Sisters’, and ‘A Bittersweet Life’, shown from the first day throughout the event.

The festival also arranged a special conference for the development of the filming industry of Jeju. Titled ‘A Seminar for Jeju Cinemateque,’ filmmakers and industry officials presented case studies, followed by an open discussion. Advocating the rights of citizens to enjoy films they choose, the participants of the seminar suggested that it is now time to launch a ‘citizen-led film movement’ to create a cinemateque in Jeju, a place for happiness and dream.

Meanwhile, the Jeju Cine Island celebrated its 20th anniversary by holding the special event on Alfred Hitchcock and his films, under the slogan of “Hitchcock Is for Films.” A film critic named Kim Seong-uk added commentaries to the film director and the overall knowledge on films prior to the screening. Gwon Min-seon, aged 63, said after the event that the films she used to enjoy on the black and white TV, only on weekends, look completely different when shown on a large screen, in bright colors. However long it has been, it didn’t seem outdated at all, she stressed, saying “A classic is a classic.”

What made the film festival even more special was the additional program, ‘The Special Panorama Section on the Culture Cities of East Asia.’ The program screened six films that depict Korea’s Jeju, Japan’s Nara, and China’s Ningbo, the three cities that were designated as Culture Cities of East Asia for this year. One of them titled ‘Mulsum’ was watched by the producer, director, and women divers (or haenyeo) who appeared on the film all together. ‘Mulsum’ is the breath of greed that leads haenyeo to the death due to the shortness of breath that the women divers may suffer when trying to pick a little more seafood underwater. Producter Ko Hee-yeong said, “Filming the life and death of haenyeo, I found my own sea of greed.” Other films, including ‘Warmer than Expected’ and ‘Chocolate Cake and Horyuji’ condoled the audience on different matters. The talks with the directors after the screening deepened the touching feeling.

The closing film ‘Come, Together’ was the grand finale of the Jeju Film Festival that lasted from November 12 to 19, more than a week that started on Saturday and ended the next Saturday. A film is ‘an art form for companionship’ which glimmers only when the director and the actors as well as the audience support one another. During the memorable week, I could see how well a film can inspire others, touch them, and reflect on the society.