The 21st JEONJU International Film Festival (JEONJU IFF, Festival Director LEE Joon-dong) has selected finalists of the Korean Competition for Shorts and Local Cinema.
From December 16, 2019 to January 31, 2020, the two sections have recruited the largest number of entries so far. This year’s Korean Competition for Shorts received 1,040 films, which was a record number and 14 films more than that of previous year. Local Cinema also attracted 47 entries, which nearly doubled from 24 submissions of last year.
25 finalists were selected for the Korean Competition for Shorts. 24 films were chosen as the finalists for Korean Competition for Shorts through an impartial judging process by director KIM Sol (Scattered Night, Korean Competition’s Grand Prize at the 20th JEONJU IFF), Joongang Daily journalist NA Wonjeong, critic SOHN Heejung and SONG Kyeong-won. In addition, Dear.Picaresque was selected from entries for the Local Cinema, so a total of 25 finalists were confirmed for the Korean Competition for Shorts. There were 18 fiction films, 2 documentary films, 3 experimental films and 2 animated films.
“This year's entries of the Korean Competition for Shorts have high cinematic quality and various subject matters. From individuals' daily lives to social issues, there was a wide range of themes, many of which dealt with current matters like housing, the elderly and disability. It looks positive that there were many submissions about the vulnerable members of society, and their subtle characterizations appealed to the juries.” said the jucges.
In addition, Local Cinema drew great attention this year. YOU Soonhee, Representative of Cinematheque Cinephile Jeonju, director LEE Seede and programmer MOON Seok selected 5 films for the section: ZO Hyeyoung's Dear.Picaresque, KIM Hye-ok's Jokyoki, YOU Joonsang's Leaf, KIM Hwi-joung's Gestalt (short films so far) and KIM Jeanwook's UFO Sketch (feature film). 4 films except Dear.Picaresque will be screened at the Korean Cinema. “Many films amoung 40 entries for the Local Cinema this year are very interesting. 7 feature films were also sophisticated. Therefore, it was unnecessary for the first-timer juries for the Local Cinema to worry; what if local cinemas had a lower level of completion than entries for the competitions or what if there were so many films which met only locational conditions, and so on.” said programmer MOON Seok.
25 finalists of the Korean Competition for Shorts will be screened at the 21st JEONJU IFF and compete for KRW 10 million (USD 8,400) including the Grand Prize, Best Director Prize and Special Jury Prize.
Judges’ Commentary on the Korean Competition for Shorts
There are so many reasons for us to love short films. One of the most appealing points of Korean short films is their stories that everyone would agree with. Most of them portray desperate problems or shocking incidents of current Korean society. Also, this year’s entries for the Korean Competition for Shorts of the JEONJU IFF have high cinematic quality and various subject matters. From individuals' daily lives to social issues, there was a wide range of themes, many of which dealt with current matters like housing, the elderly and disability. It looks positive that there were many submissions about the vulnerable members of society, and their subtle characterizations appealed to the juries.
This year’s main subjects fell into three parts: women, the socially weak and safety net and a change of media. First of all, films from the women’s perspectives made up to biggest percentage of the Korean Competition for Shorts. It was good to hear voices of women, from young girls to elderly retirees, of all ages and different classes, especially working women. Secondly, submissions were more likely to pay attention to the minority. Participants made efforts to get over conflicts of generation or sex through exploring and understanding individuals. Unlike previous year’s submissions which perceived disabilities as special circumstances or problems of others, it was remarkable that a lot of films this year looked upon it as a part of daily life or a companion.
More than 1,000 entries tackled the poverty and death. Broken relationships, disappeared social nets and marginalized conditions of life demonstrated the dark side of our society. However, young filmmakers are imagining one step further, instead of staying hopeless and depressed. They sometimes brought unexpected joy by their effort to tell new stories ethically, including disabilities, races, sexual orientations, family forms. Juries were relieved to see a diversity of ‘human faces’ in Korean society. We would like to support and thank all Korean short film directors who have fiercely unearthed stories in the front line.
It was also interesting that there were many entries with sensibility and critical mind about social media, such as Instagram, Twitter or YouTube. However, a lot of them seemed to have not enough storytelling, compared to their material interests. Therefore, we gave higher marks to films which twisted this change of media with a new sense of subjects, than ones using it as a simple subject. We are expecting these films to develop their cinematic completion and collaborate with film media in new ways.
In addition, sci-fi films have increased this year. For example, experimental film Porosity Valley 2: Tricksters’ Plot not only has a new look, but also handles problems of our time in a futuristic and science fictional background. Besides, many films focused on problems like birth rate drop, obsession with dominant genes or fear of world destruction with dystopian worldviews. However, some of them left much to be desired when they went too far with bright ideas so that they lost consensus.
All these tendencies led up to diversity in the end. This year’s submissions surprised our jury members by their various subjects and approaches. There were some films crossing borders between fictional, documentary and experimental films. It was even difficult for some films to be sorted by a certain genre because they were made in directors’ unique styles which blurred the distinction between genres. Accordingly, juries gave more weight to creativity and novelty, rather than technical arts. As a result, we are happy to introduce these projects which show their own stories and styles in intensive timeframes while considering how to unfold them. We also support and thank all films which were not selected for all these reasons. We believe this year’s finalists of the Korean Competition for Shorts have the potential ability to lead Korean cinema in the near future, so we are glad to introduce these brilliant short films.
Preliminary juries for the Korean Competition for Shorts: KIM Sol, Na Wonjeong, SOHN heejeong and SONG Kyung-won
Judges' Commentary on the Local Cinema
The real beauty of shortfilms is to glimpse flash moments or thoughtful ideas of directors in a fraction of the time. Short films remind me of a warrior having a fight with one hand tied or an archer shooting an arrow with his or her eyes closed. Many films among 40 entries of this year's Local Cinema are very interesting. 7 feature films were also sophisticated. Therefore, it was unnecessary for the first-timer juries for the Local Cinema to worry; what if local cinemas had lower level of completion than entries for the competitions or what if there were so many films which met only locational conditions.
There are 5 films selected for the Local Cinema: ZO Hyeyoung’s Dear.Picaresque, KIM Hye-ok’s Jokyoki, YOU Joonsang’s Leaf, KIM Hwi-joung’s Gestalt (short films so far) and KIM Jeanwook’s UFO Sketch. The only feature film, UFO Sketch is a documentary about a professor who not only believes in UFOs, but also carries scientific researches about them, while showing many witnesses in Korea. The documentary film seriously portrays people tracking, recording and studying UFOs; this absorbing film let us know it takes all sorts of interests and viewpoints to make a world.
Dear.Picaresque was highly commended by judges. The film starts from a house and introspects the director's so near and yet so far world. It is located in a current trend of personal documentary, but reaches a notable achievement by his own narrative strategy. Although Jokyoki was made for the film class of the local community, it was garnered positive reviews to go beyond conventional features. This short film delicately captures a instantaneous whirlwind to the inner side of a middle-aged woman, and it can become a good model for people who make films in their community productions. Leaf revolves around a father and daughter chasing a runaway mother. Its simple cinematic expressions and actors' stable performances were outstanding, while it has impressive ending. Gestalt stood out for the director's perseverance to push what he wants through. Especially, the movie was well regarded for the director's potentials as well as its substantial quality.
The jury for this year's Local Cinema included YOU Soonhee, Representative of Cinematheque Cinephile Jeonju and director LEE Seede (After Hours and Today's Gravity). These two jurors didn't judge by strict criteria, but they participated in evaluation with their great love and passion for cinema. I want to express my thanks to YOU and LEE that I could learn a lot from their wisdom. Lastly, I thank all participants who will build stellar records in the Korean film industry from now on, although they were not selected this year's lineup.
JEONJU IFF's Programmer MOON Seok.
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