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Chungmuro aims to link past and present

2008/07/29 Source

When the Chungmuro International Film Festival (CHIFFS) hit central Seoul last year, it was widely regarded as somewhat of a throwback festival. The event featured films dripping with nostalgia from when Chungmuro was the heart of the Korean film industry.

Longing for the past, however, can only take a festival so far. For the second edition, organizers drew up a list of films that not only reminisce over years gone by, but also look to the current film scene.

"Like last year, we wanted to still focus on older movies, but now we also want to expand to the current repertoire of movies", said festival planning chief Cha Seung-jae at a press conference at Chungmuro's Daehan Cinema yesterday.

Yesterday, organizers of the festival announced the master list of films to be screened at CHIFFS. If the opening film is any indication of the festival's motif, then the event, to be held from Sept. 3 to 11, is a testament to bridging the gap between the past and present. The film -- Japanese director Shinji Higuchi's "The Last Princess" -- is a remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1958 film, "The Hidden Fortress".

"(The Hidden Fortress) is widely known to have been an inspiration for George Lucas' 'Star Wars'," Cha said.

In another attempt to bring CHIFFS to the forefront of modern film, organizers will also hold its first International Competition during the festival. The 11 finalists will compete for a $30,000 grand prize and the rights to have their film shown at the close of the festival. Although none of the films are major productions, audiences can expect a certain amount of familiarity in the works.

"Since it's the first international competition, the works are important, but it's also imperative to reach out to the audience, and therefore, you can say that the works are somewhat popular in style", said festival programmer Ji Sae-yeon.

Between Higuchi's remake and the International Competition winner, festival organizers have put together nearly 150 films. The movies range from international classics such as Fred Zinnemann's "From Here to Eternity" and Martin Scorsese's "Raging Bull", to more contemporary titles such as Kim Hyun-seok's "Scout" and Yoon Seong-ho's "Milky Way Liberation Front" -- both released last year. It's all part of the festival's efforts to help the Korean film industry break out of its slump.

"They say Korean movies are in difficult times, but through this festival, I hope we can help break through those hard times at least just a little bit", said actor Lee Deok-hwa, the festival's operations chief.

CHIFFS probably won't inspire Korean films to overcome Hollywood's grip on the box office straight away, but audiences can for nine days at the festival.

For further information about the film festival, call (02) 2236-6231 or visit

By Kim Kyu-heong

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