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00707012
2011.6
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KOREAN

The Korean Film Festival DC 2011 Korean Cinema: Its Past, Present and Future With generous support from the Korea Foundation, the Korean Film Festival DC has been bringing an annual selection of classic and contemporary Korean films to audiences in the Washington, D.C. area since 2004. Organized by the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, which together comprise the Smithsonian Institution’s museum of Asian art, the festival is presented at the Freer Gallery’s Meyer Auditorium and at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland.



Cinematic Diversity

As Korean films rose to global prominence in the late 1990s and early 2000s thanks to the success of the New Korean Cinema movement, it became clear that the most unique aspect of Korean cinema is its variety.

Cinematic Diversity

Popular genre movies and artistic independent films have enjoyed equal success on the world stage. At the same time, organizations like the Korean Film Archive and the Pusan International Film Festival are restoring and presenting the works of filmmakers from the past, leading to the rediscovery of major figures like Shin Sang-ok, Lee Man-hee, and Kim Ki-young, both within Korea and around the world.
The Korean Film Festival DC’s aim is to present as broad a selection as possible of this cinematic diversity. The 2011 edition included popular hits like Jang Hun’s “Secret Reunion,” Kang Hyung-chul’s “Scandal Makers,” and Kim Ji-woon’s “I Saw the Devil,” along with prestigious films that won awards at the 2010 Cannes International Film Festival: Lee Chang-dong’s Poetry and Hong Sang-soo’s “Hahaha.” Yang Ik-june’s low-budget drama Breathless and Lee Chung-ryoul’s surprise hit documentary “Old Partner” represented Korea’s burgeoning community of talented young independent filmmakers. A presentation of three films by Kim Ki-young, including one of Korean cinema’s seminal works, “The Housemaid” (presented in a version restored by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation), gave audiences a taste of the work of a master from Korean cinema’s classic era.


A Talk with Director Im Sang-soo

The centerpiece of this year’s festival was a weekend of personal appearances by Im Sang-soo. Part of the generation of directors, who got their start with the rise of the New Korean Cinema in the late ’90s, Im explores sensitive cultural, social, and political issues affecting contemporary Korean society through films that feature compelling drama and dark humor. On May 6-8, he presented three of his films– “The Housemaid,” “A Good Lawyer’s Wife” and “The President’s Last Bang”

A Talk with Director Im Sang-soo – at the Freer Gallery and the AFI Silver Theatre, in events which attracted over 600 people to the rare opportunity to interact with Im during in-depth question-and-answer sessions after the screenings.Each film provoked its own set of unique questions about the issues Im confronts in his work. His 2010 remake of Kim Ki-young’s “The Housemaid” led to a discussion of the huge changes that took place during the half century that separates the two films, in particular the rise of a new “super rich” class and its effect on Korean society.

Director Im Sang-soo “A Good Lawyer’s Wife,” a film about infidelity in a middle class family, raised questions about the erosion of traditional family relationships in modern Korea. Im’s most overtly political film, “The President’s Last Bang,” which dramatizes the assassination of Korean president Park Chung-hee in 1979, inspired a thought-provoking discussion of recent Korean history, President Park’s legacy, and the censorship issues faced by Im because of his film’s rebellious portrayal of the nation’s former leader.
Our audiences always appreciate personal appearances by filmmakers, and it was particularly rewarding for them to be in the presence of an artist whose work illuminates contemporary Korean society in such compelling ways, and who can discuss it so eloquently with a live audience. Thanks to aggressive Korean and English language publicity campaigns both in print and on the web, the Korean Film Festival DC has seen a noticeable increase in attendance over previous years, with numerous members of the Washington area’s sizable Korean-American community making up nearly half of the audience at most screenings. The mix of Koreans and non-Koreans at festival events is both an encouraging sign of cultural exchange and a hopeful sign for the continued success of our festival in the years to come.

Tom Vick
Curator of Film
Freer and Sackler Galleries

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