By Riley Hooper.
Returning for its ninth year in Australia, presented by the Korean Cultural Centre Australia is the Korean Film Festival (KOFFIA). Taking place in Brisbane, Melbourne and Canberra, the festival will take place in Sydney from August 9 to 18 featuring the very best of Korean culture through film. The packed program will showcase a range of world class Korean films, from blockbusters to arthouse flicks, with something exquisite to tickle every fans fancy. The past year for Korean cinema has been one of the best making for a very special year for the festival, with Director of KOFFIA, David Park saying, “the festival is a cinematic experience for people of all tastes, ages and backgrounds, with an enormous range for audiences to pick from.”
The opening of the festival will play feel-good flick Little Forrest and will close with lively Korean arthouse hit Microhabitat. The film won the CGV Arthouse Award at the Busan International Film Festival last year and is the directorial debut of Jeon Go-woon.
Headlining this year’s festival is Keys To The Heart, a story of two men entering each other’s lives to discover they are half-brothers. Bringing Hollywood and Hallyuwood together is A Taxi Driver, which was South Korea’s pick for the foreign language category at the 2018 Academy Awards. Among the genres of the Korean Film Festival audiences can catch thrillers, dramas, comedy, horror and fantasy. In the thriller category, there are four films being played, 7 Years Of Night, Golden Slumber, The Vanished and Forgotten.
In the drama section, there are seven films being showcased, with the standout being, A Haunting Hitchhike that follows a lonely but hopeful journey of a teenage girl seeking out her long-lost mother. The film is the debut feature from Jeong Heejae and won her the Audience Award at the Seoul International Women’s Film Festival. The other dramas in the line-up are, A Day, Champion, Last Child, Mothers, Stand By Me and Believer.
The fantasy genre boasts two films, Glass Garden and Be With You, a love story blending warmth and sadness together as a father and son struggle to cope with the loss of a wife and mother. On the sunny and funny side of things the Korean Film Festival has four comedies in the massive line-up. First up is I Can Speak with What A Man Wants, Snatch Up and Midnight Runners rounding out the bill.
CITY HUB TOP PICKS
FORGOTTEN: In this twisted suspense thriller, a boy who suffers nervous breakdowns is forced to investigate his brother after he is kidnapped and cannot remember anything. Mysteriously leaving in the night the boy follows his brother to see if his brother is really who he says he is. The film stars Kang Ha-neul, Kim Mu-yeol, Moon Sung-keun and Na Young-hee. Director Chang-jun and producer Jang Won-seok will be guests at the films screening in Sydney and will be presenting a Q&A session after the film. The film has good suspense and definitely keeps you guessing with a Shutter Island type feel. The first hour is great, is he crazy? Is he not? But in the last forty minutes the film takes a turn for the weird and fails to explain what the hell is going on. Not a bad watch but the ending should be Forgotten. ★★★
GONJIAM – HAUNTED ASYLUM: Disappointingly the only film in the horror genre. As a horror fan this was the second film chosen to review and boy was it a surprise. The film follows the owner of YouTube channel ‘Horror Times’ and six accomplices as they set up to live stream their exploration of the haunted Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital. To gain maximum views a few of the group rig up fake hauntings, but is all that is happening fake or is the group cursed? The found footage style South Korean horror is directed by Jung Bum-shik and stars Wi Ha-joon, Park Ji-hyun, Moon Ye-won and more. The film could be compared to The Gallows but ten times better. There were a few jump scares and the cast went well together. ★★★★
MIDNIGHT RUNNERS: A South Korean action comedy directed by Jason Kim and starring Park Seo-joon and Kang Ha-neul as two unlikely situational best friends. The film tells the story of the slow-witted jock and bookworm as they join the Korean National Police University. Well into university the pair witness a kidnapping. The authorities are too busy to make it a priority, dealing with the kidnapping of a business moguls son. The friends decide to investigate on their own getting them in all sorts of trouble. An innocent comedy that’s a cross between 21 Jump Street and Police Academy. Could have had more action but classic Korean comedy. ★★★