Takeaway​ from Korean Film Festival in Australia

Just a couple of days ago, my friends and I went to KOFFIA (Korean Film Festival in Australia) opening night at ACMI and watched the headlining film <A TAXI DRIVER>, which impressed us a lot. So, today, let me share with you my takeaway from it and my critical reflection on key concepts of film festivals.

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There was a small opening ceremony at ACMI Café & Bar before the movie started. We couldn’t get in since it’s only by invitation, but we could tell that up to 60%-70% guests are Korean, which was making sense as this was a country-oriented carnival for them especially considering the amount of published Korean movies in Melbourne is not as much as movies imported from other countries such as India, China, etc.

That’s why we came into the film theater about 20 minutes earlier than ticket time and watched KOFFIA official trailer again and again 😂😂 at least 5 times. It’s a short clip that a young woman was riding on a bicycle and leaving the big city behind to gradually entering a village. Whatever the actress, the clothing, the scenario or even the color tonality, all those elements make everyone feel cozy, relaxing and satisfying, that’s so Korea! I can speak, it’s the best choice to help the audience to immerse in Korean film!

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After some homework research, I found the trailer perfectly aligning the vision of KOFFIA to simply presenting a cinematic experience for people of all tastes, ages and cultural backgrounds via showcasing the wonder of Korean culture through film, and more importantly, to encourage them to branch out to immerse themselves in other forms of culture from Korea, whether it is in the form of music, TV or food! I mean, what would be more appropriate than a clean, light and totally harmless smile!

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Everything looks like extremely easy in this case, but actually not. As a gatekeeper and tastemaker, KOFFIA had to filter and select only 16 movies to fulfill as much multiple needs as possible and attract as much ‘foreign’ people as possible while keep balancing their initial vision (and maybe partners’ and sponsors’ requirements as well).

Compared with theme-oriented or relative niche category film festival, KOFFIA, as a mass film festival, is in a dilemma. On the one hand, it attempts to maximize its scale by sacrificing aesthetics, but mass audience appeal decides; on the other side, it must be positioned itself as an art form and aligned to the ideology of art for art’s sake, with ample attention for the aesthetic quality of the films shown, which may downsize audience scope.

2018 KOFFIA covers an enormous range including comedy, thriller, horror, drama and so on, from big-budget blockbusters to intimate art-house flicks, from awarded movie to directorial debut. In my point of view, it’s like an annual film compilation like CD compilations, which means that somebody (gatekeepers) have already done the hard work for us and packaged them all up on one film festival with stereotypical graphics and experiences. As non-professionals, we just need to sit down and relax, maybe have to watch the trailer over 5 times 😆, but you will enjoy it.

 

YING WENG

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