The 24th JEONJU International Film Festival Announces 11 Selection of Titles for Korean Competition
- Eleven finalists include eight narrative films, two documentaries, and one experimental documentary
- Diverse topics, including LGBTQ and sci-fi elements, New titles by directors who participated in previous editions of JEONJU IFF, International film festival submissions
The JEONJU International Film Festival (JEONJU IFF, Festival Co-Director Min Sungwook and Jung Junho) announced eleven finalists for the Korean Competition.
The JEONJU IFF announced that 111 films were submitted to the Korean Competition this year, and a total of 11 selections including eight narratives, two documentaries, and one experimental documentary were selected. JEONJU IFF’s Korean Competition is a section presenting a Korean director's first or second feature film and serving as a gateway for emerging early-career directors. Previous Grand Prize winners include directors Lee Jae-eun and Lim Jisun for Kim Min-young of the Report Card as well as Jeong Ji-hye for Jeong-sun.
Moon Seok, a programmer serving as a jury for the Korean Competition of 24th JEONJU IFF said, " More colorful films with various themes were submitted this year so taking the time to even discuss specific trends is meaningless. The topic of queer is now just a natural trend, and the number of features and shorts dealing with the process of film or art production have increased considerably. In addition, films that interpret and implement sci-fi imagination in their own way stood out." He added. "I am more than delighted to reconnect with the directors who return to JEONJU IFF with new films. I gladly welcome directors who submitted their first feature films to JEONJU IFF."
Shim Hye-jung's Flowers of mold explores the hidden side of modern society relationships with a meeting between the main character, who believes that people’s garbage reveals their true colors and her next-door neighbor man. Shin Dongmin's From You is a unique trilogy crossing the boundary between documentary and drama, starring the director himself and his biological mother, Kim Hye-jung.
No Heaven, But Love. by Han Jay follows queer teenagers. Set in a high school Taekwondo club in 1999, the film portrays friendship, love, chronic violence, and sexual abuse. Heavy snow, Yun Suik's latest project after a ten-year hiatus, follows two high school girls who travel back and forth between Gangneung and Seoul and fall in love with each other.
Jude Chun's Unidentified displays a hypothetical world where an unknown flying object appeared in the sky in 1993. Sohn Koo-yong's Night Walk is a documentary in a unique format. The film captures the night scenery of some random town, and the dark screen becomes a canvas for painting and a background for writing poems by Seonbis of the Joseon Dynasty.
Regardless of Us by Yoo Heong-jun reveals the gaps and mismatches between facts and statements. An actress is in the hospital after a stroke, her collaborators attend the premiere of the film she starred in and visit her to let her know how it went.
Also noteworthy is Sugung-The Underwater Palace by Yoo Suyeon. Pansori singer Jung Ei-jin is a great-granddaughter of a court musician Jeong Changeop and daughter of Living National Treasure Jeong Gwang-su. She is a certified Holder of Intangible Cultural Heritage (the City of Seoul, No 32, “Sugungga”). Park Marisol's Warm Welcome talks about the director's mother, who devoted her life to helping migrant workers' rights.
Also waiting to meet the audience are two directors who submitted their first feature film for the 24th edition of JEONJU IFF. Kwak Eun-mi's A Tour Guide chronologically portrays a North Korean woman defector’s life. Park Joongha's Small Fry recounts a story of an actor who failed to get a role in a commercial film and a film director who did not give him a job.
The 24th JEONJU IFF will be held for ten days from Thursday, April 27 to Saturday, May 6, 2023, in and around Jeonju Film Street.
Commentary on the 24th JEONJU IFF Korean Competition Selection
The number of films submitted to the Korean Competition at the 24th JEONJU IFF was 111, a decrease of ten from last year. This number seems like a disappointment but pardonable due to the overall high quality of films. Compared to the previous years, more colorful films with various themes were submitted this year so taking the time to even discuss specific trends is meaningless. The topic of queer is now just a natural trend, and the number of features and shorts dealing with the process of film or art production have increased considerably. In addition, perhaps because of the influence of literature, films that interpret and implement sci-fi imagination in their own way stood out.
This year, the selection of 11 films in the Korean Competition and the 16 films in the Korean Cinema reflects the upgraded quality. It is the same reason why the process of film selection was more difficult than any other year. We would like to send our apologies for those films that were not screened at this year’s JEONJU IFF. Even though it was not selected for the JEONJU IFF, we guarantee that these films will be highlighted through other opportunities.
The first thing that comes to mind when you look at the selections is delight. Several directors featured at the previous JEONJU IFF returned with new films. Flowers of Mold by Shim Hye-jung (A Bedsore featured at the 20th edition), From You by Shin Dongmin (Mom’s Song featured at the 21st edition), No Heaven, But Love by Han Jay (Take Me Home featured at the 21st edition), and Heavy Snow by Yun Suik (Groggy Summer featured at the 14th edition).
Director Shim Hye-jung, who examined patriarchal family relationships, care labor, and senior problems in great depth through A Bedsore, digs into the deep emotions of love through her new film Flowers of Mold. It explores the hidden side of modern society relationships with the main character, who believes that people’s garbage reveals their true colors and her next-door neighbor, who neatly sorts and discards garbage.
Director Shin Dongmin, who exposed the close-knit yet tiresome family world in his debut film Mom’s Song, extends the theme of family in his new film From You and imprints his own style. Like in his previous film, not only does his own mother Kim Hyejeong makes an appearance but also the director himself plays the role of her son, crossing the boundary between documentary and drama. This time again, he presents an entangled three-part composition.
Director Han Jay attracted the attention of the public at the JEONJU IFF with Take Me Home, a conventional queer melodrama. His second feature No Heaven, But Love. is considered a youth queer drama. Set in a high school taekwondo club in 1999, it tells the story of friendship, love, and the children who grew up in pain from chronic violence and sexual abuse. The refreshing performances by Park Soo-yeon, and Lee You-mi are impressive.
After Groggy Summer which dynamically portrayed the growth story of youth, director Yun Suik returns in ten years with his new film Heavy Snow. It depicts the friendship and love of two girls who are becoming adults. The two high school students fall in love while sharing various feelings as they travel between Gangneung and Seoul. The film fully captures the emotions of the two girls that continue to persist despite the fragmented time and space. Another attraction is being able to watch Han Sohee in her youthful days.
In addition to these four directors, Ko Bong-su, Noh Young-seok, Jung Hyungsuk, and Hong Jiyeong are presenting their new films in the Korean Cinema. It is like a Homecoming Day at this year’s JEONJU IFF. We delightfully welcome these directors who have returned after a long period.
Experimental films that premiered at foreign film festivals drew attention. Unidentified by director Jude Chun was screened in the Harbour of the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) 2023 and in the Undercurrent of the Singapore International Film Festival 2022. The film is based on the hypothetical fact that in 1993, a UFO appeared in the sky over each city on Earth. Surprisingly, nothing seems to have happened in the 29 years since then, but the story unfolds as rumors circulate that aliens have appeared disguised as earthlings. It is a film with satire, humor, and a keen point of view.
Night Walk by director Sohn Koo-yong, which was screened at the Harbour of the IFFR 2023 along with Unidentified, is a documentary and an experimental film in a unique format. The film captures the night scenery of some random town, and the dark screen becomes a canvas for painting and a background for writing poems by Seonbis of the Joseon Dynasty. It looks like the night version of his previous film Afternoon Landscape and feels like a last night’s dream.
Regardless of Us by director Yoo Heong-jun was screened at the Forum section at the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival. A middle-aged actor suffers from a sudden stroke and is unable to attend the premiere of the movie she starred in. Her collaborators on the film visit her and share details of the recent premiere. However, their stories get entangled. In this, the gap and contradiction between objective truth and subjective statement, or reality and fiction, are revealed.
The selected documentaries are also noteworthy. In addition to Night Walk, two more documentaries will be screened. Sugung-The Underwater Palace by director Yoo Suyeon tells the story of Pansori singer Jung Ei-jin, the daughter of Jeong Gwang-su (the first Pansori Intangible Cultural Heritage) and the great-granddaughter of the royal Pansori master Jeong Changeop. The film focuses on the arduous efforts to find a successor to protect ”Sugungga” as the tradition of Dongpyeonje disappears. It gives the audience a glimpse into the anguish of a female artist.
Director Park Marisol’s Warm Welcome is a documentary about her mother who is dedicated to the human rights of immigrant workers. This is not only a story of a mother who became an activist after living as a housewife, but also a story of the director who understands the life of her mother, the closest person to her yet hard to truly understand her intentions, through the camera lens.
The first feature films by these two directors are also outstanding. A Tour Guide by Kwak Eun-mi chronicles the life of a female North Korean defector. This woman achieves her Korean dream by obtaining a Tourist Guide license and becomes a tour guide. She also is desperately looking for her younger sibling who she cannot get a hold of. This film pays attention to the confused look of the woman who is unable to find her place amid changes in the external environment and indifference to others. Meanwhile, Kwak’s graduation short film from KAFA, Beneath the Wheel, will be showcased at the Focus: KAFA40.
Director Park Joongha’s Small Fry is a film with a unique ambience set in a fishing site. It tells the story of an actor who heads to a fishing site to make YouTube videos. There he bumps into the director and other actors in a commercial film he auditioned for. How the characters choose to lure and entice each other is very compelling. This year, a lot of short and feature films deal with the process of film or art production, and Small Fry is one of them.
We thank all the directors who submitted their work to the JEONJU IFF. Congratulations to those whose films were selected for screening and condolences to those who ran out of luck this year.
Programmer Moon Seok
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