By Nigel DSa
Assistant Editor / Staff Writer
Female cast of "Offside", an uplifting Iranian movie about soccer and the divide between the sexes, won cheers at the Berlin Film Festival as one of two features from the Islamic republic vying for the top prizes.
Ranked as one of the top festivals in Korea for both its audience record and its organization, the 7th Jeonju International Film Festival is set to take off this April 27, 2006 for a nine-day run. This year 192 films from 42 countries will be shown. The opening film will be Berlin Silver Bear Winner Offside by top Iranian director Jafar Panahi, whose films often focus on the social issues facing modern Iranian women.
The main program will feature two competition sections, 'Indie Vision' and 'Digital Spectrum'. Indie Vision will present debuts or second features that embody the vision of independent filmmaking. The Woosuk award of $10 000 US dollars will be awarded to the film that corresponds most with the festival's slogan, 'Freedom, Independence, and Communication'.
Sitting on this year's Indie Vision Jury will be Jonathan Rosenbaum who has published several books on film and is a film critic for the Chicago Reader. Japanese director Nagasaki Shunichi and Korean actress and director Pang Eun-Jin of Princess Aurora
will also be jury members. Indie Vision will feature films from Canada, Russia, India, Europe, Argentina and Japan. In previous years directors such as Thailand's Cannes winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul became much more widely known through attention in this section.
Digital Spectrum will present worldwide creative films from shorts to features and documentaries made in the digital medium by new and established directors. This year's selection will include Heavenly Path a new film by Korean director Kim Eung-Soo
(Desire, Way To Go, Rose
) about a man's mysterious disappearance and another man's search for him. On the Digital Spectrum Jury will be media artist Harun Farocki of Germany, film professor and author Nicole Brenez, and Korean art critic and professor, Sung Wan-Kyung.
The Cinemascape section will showcase films by masters and prominent new directors. Shorts and feature films by directors such as Tsukamoto Shinya, Kurosawa Kyoshi, Manoel De Oliveira, Philippe Garrel and The Brothers Quay are included here. There will also be a special focus on Labour documentaries.
Korean Cinema Showcase will present mainstream and limited release features such as Song Il-Gon
's The Magicians
, Bang Eun-Jin
's Princess Aurora
and Jeong Ji-Woo
's Blossom Again ("Close to You
"). Korean Shorts: Critics Week will present Korean Shorts selected by JIFF critics for their inventive merit, and Korean Cinema on the Move will highlight independently produced Korean features.
Indian filmmaker, Ritwik Ghatak, largely unknown in Korea, will receive a special retrospective, while a section called Discovery: Allegories of Resistence, will spotlight forbidden films from the Soviet Union circa the 1960's and 70's.
Popular section, Midnight Obsession, will present the early horror films of Canadian director David Cronenberg, along with recent films with a cultish tinge by directors from around the world.
This years Outdoor Screening will feature commercial Korean films and several foreign films. Finally, an Actor's Masterclass will be held for JIFF 2006 with Korean star Choi Min-Sik
and legendary Japanese actor Takenaka Naoto to participate. With Korea-Japan as a theme this year, the JIFF closing film will be Don't Look Back
, a Korean-Japanese co-production and feature debut by director Kim Young-Nam
The festival is two and a half hours south of Seoul in the picturesque city of Jeonju. It is easily accessible by bus from Seoul's Express Bus Terminal in Gangnam. All films will have English subtitles unless otherwise noted. More information is available at the festival's English website at Open the link
Mr. Nigel DSa, who teaches English at Hanyang University in Seoul, serves as assistant editor and staff writer for The Seoul Times. Mr. DSa has been contributing many articles to a number of publications. Mr. DSa specializes in film and other cultural affairs.