The London Korean Film Festival (LKFF), which runs from 2-14 November and this year celebrates its 10th Anniversary, has today announced the details of its 2015 programme. Boasting 51 films across features and shorts, a host of UK Premieres, retrospectives and newly introduced Emerging Directors and Documentary strands, the 2015 Festival offers UK audiences a fantastic opportunity to discover the very best in Korean cinema. With works from established filmmakers including Bong Joon-ho, to up-and-coming directors and renowned Korean actors, this Festival guarantees to offer something for everyone.
As part of this year’s 10th Anniversary, the 2015 Programme sees the introduction of an Audience’s Choice strand, where the public were asked to vote for their favourite Opening/Closing films of the LKFF over the last 9 years. The top three films will be screened at this year’s festival and includes the 2009 UK theatrically released The Good, The Bad, The Weird from Kim Jee-woon, his take on a Western with the backdrop of 1930s Manchuria.
Ode to My Father
The Festival is pleased to unveil its Opening Gala as the UK Premiere of JK Youn’s drama Ode to My Father [Gukjesijang] starring Hwang Jung-min and Kim Yunjin. The second highest-grossing film in the history of Korean cinema, the film premiered at this year’s Berlinale where it garnered rave reviews. When the Korean War breaks out, a young boy named Duk-soo vows to take care of his displaced family in place of his missing father. His lifelong promise spans over 60 years, leading him through a monumental journey of hope, dedication, and personal sacrifices. Director JK Youn, Producer Kil Young-min and lead actor Hwang Jung-min will attend the Opening Gala which premieres at BFI Southbank.
This year’s Closing Gala is the European Premiere of Zhang Lu’s quirky story Love And..., a film which represents the diversity of Korean cinema. Zhang Lu’s work offers a rare glimpse in to Korea’s modern history through war, migration and separation. His Closing Gala starring Park Hae-il, Moon So-ri, and Ahn Sung-ki, is an offbeat comedy which captivatingly explores the dualities of life through colour and black and white, love and madness, acting and being, as well as presence and absence, in a witty four-chapter interlinking conundrum.
Emerging Directors, programmed by renowned film critic and commentator Tony Rayns, one of the world’s leading experts on Asian cinema, will see works from hugely talented directors such as Lee Kwang-kuk (A Matter of Interpretation [Kkum-bo-da hae-mong] about a small time actress and her encounter with a detective who soon discovers their lives are intertwined in a strange way), who has worked with Hong Sangsoo on a number of acclaimed films between 2005 and 2009, and Jang Kun-jae (A Midsummer's Fantasia), both of whom have promising careers as auteurs in Korea’s independent film scene.
This year’s actor focus strand shines a spotlight on one of Korea’s most talented actors, Hwang Jung-min. Starring in over 40 films spanning 15 years, he has become one of the most important actors in Korean cinema. His films screening in the Festival include his very first film, the 2001 modern classic Waikiki Brothers [Waikiki beuladeoseu] directed by Lim Soon-rye; Im Sang-soo’s A Good Lawyer's Wife [Baramnan gajok]; detective action comedy Veteran and the Opening Gala Ode to My Father.
CLASSICS REVISITED, which is programmed by Dr Mark Morris, a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, shines the spotlight on one of Korea’s most notable auteurs, Chung Chang-hwa. Having directed over 58 films including the renowned Five Fingers of Death, he was the first Korean director to work abroad in Hong Kong for Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest Studios between 1969 -1977. LKFF is delighted to announce that Chung Chang-hwa will be attending this year’s Festival to present a number of his films to UK audiences. Films screening here will include hit crime-drama A Bonanza about a man who, having sacrificed relationships with those closest to him in search of a gold mine, will soon discover that finding the gold is a lot more straight-forward than keeping hold of it, and Sunset on Sarbin River about a Korean youth who becomes a Japanese army officer.
Films of commercial or critical success during 2014-2015 in Korea and at international film festivals will be showcased in HITS FROM 2014-15. This strand looks to bring some of the biggest box office hits and the award-winning films to the UK screens with a wide array of interesting, thrilling and poetic stories. Films in this section include gripping crime thriller The Classified File [Geukbisusa], based on a real-life Busan kidnapping case from 1978; Oh Seung-uk’s The Shameless [Mu-roe-han] starring Jeon Do-yeon, a hard-boiled melodrama between a detective, who never realized that what they had was love, and a killer's lover, who wanted to believe it was; and Twenty [Seumool], a radiant comedy about three best friends.
Six critically acclaimed films from the Busan International Film Festival 2014 will be shown as special screenings giving audiences an opportunity to see some of the highlights of last year’s Festival. Programmed by Busan International Film Festival programme director for Korean cinema, Nam Dong-chul, films screening here include Kim Dae-hwan’s family drama End of Winter [Cheol-won-gi-haeng], about a feuding family trapped in a house together and forced to address their issues, and Hong Seok-jae’s conspiracy theory thriller Socialphobia [So-syeol-po-bi-a].
For the first time, this year’s Festival will include a DOCUMENTARIES strand, showcasing four important, moving and inspiring documentary films. Selected by Ricardo Matos Cabo and Matthew Barrington on behalf of the Essay Film Festival titles include Kim Eungsu’s emotive film The City in the Water and Kim Jeong-keun’s The Island of Shadows about working life in the Hanjin Shipyard.
In celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Korea’s biggest film distribution company CJ, LKFF will be presenting a standout selection of the company’s portfolio from their 20 year history, including a wide range of titles from big blockbusters to independent and auteur titles. Film’s screening in this strand include the newly black and white mastered version of the dramatic and heart-wrenching Mother [Madeo] directed by Bong Joon-ho, which tells the story of a single mother who takes the law into her own hands to clear her son’s name when he is accused of murdering a young girl. Also screening in this strand are Hwang Dong-hyeuk’s fun and touching feature Miss Granny [Su-sang-han geu-nyeo] and Choo Chang-min’s Masquerade [Gwanghae: Wangyidoen namja], a tale of the paranoid 15th ruler of Korea's Joseon Dynasty, King Gwanghae.
Guests expected to attend this year’s Festival include: Director JK Youn (Ode To My Father), producer Kil Young-min (Ode To My Father), actor Hwang Jung-min (Ode To My Father), director Hwang Dong-hyeuk (Miss Granny), director Chung Chang-hwa (A Bonanza), director Zhang Lu (Love And…), director Lee Kwang-kuk (A Matter of Interpretation), director Jang Kun-jae (A Midsummer’s Fantasia), programmer Nam Dong-chul, director Baek Jae-ho (We Will Be OK), director Kim Dong-myung (The Liar) and director Kim Eungsu (The City In The Water).
Events and screenings will take place at BFI Southbank, Picturehouse Central, Picturehouse Hackney, Odeon Kingston, Odeon Panton Street, Picturehouse Ritzy and Regent Street Cinema.
For more information visit www.koreanfilm.co.uk.