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JIMFF: Korea's only music and film festival

2010/07/20 | Permalink | Source

The scenic setting of Jecheon in central Korea will again come alive to the sights and sounds of the 6th Jecheon International Music & Film Festival. Located close to the lush shores of the famous Cheongpung Lake, the festival will bring together 84 films from 26 countries.

This year's eclectic programme uses music, something that unites us all, as inspiration in which to choose a diverse yet accessible line up for many to enjoy. Given such a creative and stimulating central theme, the festival is famous for showing a wide variety of films including documentaries about music, musical films, films about music, a feature competition section and a section of musical shorts.

The Concert (2009) directed by Radu Mihaileanu, an historical, partly true story will kick off this year's festival . The movie, based in the former Soviet Union, tells the tale of a former conductor of the Bolshoi Orchestra who was fired from his prestigious position for refusing to fire Jewish players. 25 years later, now a janitor for the orchestra, the former disgraced conductor finds a fax laying around which changes the course of his life. Seeing an invitation for the orchestra to play in Paris, he decides to contact his old musical friends, assemble an orchestra and play again, as the Bolshoi in Paris.

Jecheon's International Competition section, 'World Music Film Today' will this year focus on the Asian region. Highlights include Japanese director Tsuki Inoue's first feature Autumn Adagio (2009) about a nun ironically played by pop singer Rei Shibakusa, who, approaching menopause, begins to grieve the loss of youth and vitality she never had as a nun in a convent. Originally a musical, Bran Nue Dae (2009) screened at the Melbourne International Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival and Sundance. In this coming-of-age comedy an Australian indigenous boy, a bunch of hippies and other crazy characters start out on a road trip that ultimately leads them back home .

'Cine Symphony' is the festival's section that deals with musicals and contemporary features of various genres where music acts as a catalyst to the plot. Highlights include, the Diego Martínez Vignatti written and directed The Tango Singer (2009) about a tango singer trying to get back on her feet. This dramatic tale is assisted by generous and powerful bursts of tango that move the narrative along. Like you've never seen Carmen before, Carmen of the North (2009) is a rap version of the famous opera set in the Netherlands.

'Music in Sight' is JIMFF's documentary section which is designed to illuminate such themes as the musician as individual, and universal themes of life and culture. Highlights include: Genius Within - The Inner Life of Glenn Gould (2009), a film that gives us an intimate glimpse into the life of the brilliant pianist who created countless controversies before his untimely death in 1992 and Joan Baez: How Sweet the Sound (2009) which focuses on the life and music of American folk music icon and human rights activist Joan Baez and her 50 year career. For the jazz fans comes Toots Thielemans, the life story of the 88 year old, world famous Belgium jazz harmonica player, and for something very different Play for the Past – focuses on internationally renowned harpist Lavinia Meijer, a native Korean adopted by a Dutch family.
Not to be ignored is Korea's burgeoning music film scene which is well represented at Jecheon this year. Highlights include, Alien Band, a film about young foreigners who form their own band and Flying Butterfly, a film about Korean rocker Yoon Do-hyun's band and the group's experiences participating in an American rock festival. Butterfly Flavored Biscuit reveals how indie band Butterfly Flavor from Busan recorded their album and went mainstream, and last up is Laughing Guitar a heartwarming film about a musician who goes back to his hometown to start a music school and share his love for music with the locals.

The last major section, 'Themes and Variations' deals with documentaries that focus on a specific musical era or genre or other category. This year the festival introduces six documentaries, including footage about a number of legendary albums, all of which represent the evolution of rock and pop music in the 1970's and 1980's. These documentaries focus on famous albums such as Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, Queen's A Night at the Opera and U2's The Joshua Tree.
JIMFF also has a family section, a diverse range of music acts and their flagship programme 'Cinema Concert' where an outdoor stage screens films with a live score. The festival will also honor film veteran musical director KIM Su-cheol. Information can be found in English and Korean on the official web site: Open the link and on the official blog: Open the link . The festival kicks off August 12 and ends 5 days later on the 17th.

David Oxenbridge

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