By Seo Dong-shin
From an all-girls ice hockey team in the Himalayas initiated by a Buddhist teen ("Thin Ice"), to a passionate Australian artist whose life was tragically cut short by a mysterious illness ("Girl in a Mirror"), to the cheerful Orchestra of Piazza Vittorio in Italy ("The Orchestra of Piazza Vittorio"), life's stories from around the globe are colorful. And audiences can soon catch a glimpse of them all at the upcoming EBS International Documentary Festival (EIDF) scheduled Aug.27-Sept.2.
The annual festival, the fourth of its kind, will take place under the theme "People to People, Communication for Coexistence" this year.
A total of 292 documentary films from 74 countries will be screened in categories such as "Festival Choice", "Forefront of Documentary", "Meaning of Family", "Challenge of Hope", "Art and Life", "Portrait of an Era", and "Korean Independent Documentaries".
A special focus is given to five Asia-Pacific rim countries, Australia, Thailand, New Zealand, Indonesia and Nepal. From August 28 to September 1, one film from each of the five countries will be screened on EBS channel and at the EBS Space _ where traditional food tasting and cultural performances will also take place.
Opening the festival is Stefan Schwietert's "Echoes of Home", a dramatic documentary about a Swiss vocalists experimenting with traditional folk and experimental music, which was also screened at this year's Berlin International Film Festival.
The "Festival Choice" section features interesting contemporary films such as "The Cats of Mirikitani", a New York-based documentary tracing a street artist who always paints pictures of cats in Soho, and "Shame", which portrays the life of Mukhtaran Mai, the Pakistani woman who famously rose from being the victim of a gang rape to women's rights activist.
Other sections are also full of worthy films. A few examples are: "The Blood of Yingzhou District", which tells of a Chinese boy born with AIDS his parents contracted while selling blood for a living; "Ghosts of Cite Soleil", a powerful documentary set against the chaos in the roughest slums of Haiti during the 2004 coup d'etat; "Black Gold", which offers a look into the world of global coffee trade starting from poor Ethiopian farmers; "The Refugee All Stars", a hopeful story of a six-piece band formed by Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea; "Manufacturing Dissent", a critical view on controversial documentary director Michael Moore.
Geoffrey Gilmore, director of the reputed Sundance Film Festival in the United States, heads the jury for the EIDF competition section this year. The five-member jury includes Antoinette Spielmann von Joest from Franco-German TV network ARTE, Hideo Murata from NHK, Emmy Award-winning Korean-American broadcasting journalist Lee Ann Kim, and Lee Chang-jae
, director of "Between"
, a documentary film on Korean shamans, who teaches film at Chung-Ang University. The jury members will participate in international forums, seminars and master class sessions scheduled throughout the festival.
The competition winner, to be decided by viewers' ratings, online voting as well as the jury's evaluation, will be awarded $10,000 on September 1.
The television channel EBS will air a total of 58 documentary films for 10 hours a day on average during the festival period. EBS Space in Dogok-dong, and Megabox COEX in Samseong-ong, are the venues in southern Seoul to screen selected films, while in north, alternative space LOOP near Hongik University and Yonsei University's CJ-inD will screen 12 and 24 films respectively. Art Space Camerata in Heyri, Paju will also screen 20. Admission is free though screenings at EBS Space and Megabox COEX need to be reserved on Open the link