The Korean Film Festival in Australia is organized by the Korean Cultural Centre Australia (KCC), a diplomatic non-profit organization that acts as the role of the Korean cultural ambassador in Australia. The first KOFFIA was held in 2010, and this year is the 9th festival in Australia. The KOFFIA is not one of the world famous film festivals, and there is none award section of the festival. However, the KOFFIA is a tour showcasing-form film festival, playing selected films around 4 cities in Australia this year, only at Sydney are there 2 guest Q&A sessions. The 9th year of KOFFIA presents 22 of the best Korean films of the past year. Aligning the goal of presenting a cinematic experience for people of all tastes, ages and cultural backgrounds, the 9th KOFFIA offers a vibrant selection which including big-budget blockbusters, gripping indie flicks, romantic-comedies, pop culture musings, thrillers, etc.
Since I have always been interested in Korean movies, I decided to participate in the Korean Film Festival. The KOFFIA is co-operating with ACMI in Melbourne. The ACMI provide a professional spot to support the success of the festival. There are 16 films selected for showing in Melbourne, and the opening film is ‘A Taxi Driver’, which I chose to go for. After a brief research, I found this film is judged as one of the must-see Korean films of 2017, involving a sensitive political topic. However, it is also the film that represents the Korean film industry to compete for the Oscar awards of the year. The film was adapted from the true story of the Gwangju incident. In 2017, 37 years after the Gwangju incident, directed by Korean director Jang Hoon, and having the cast of Song Kang-ho, Thomas Kretschmann, Ryu Jun-yeol, ‘A Taxi Driver’ was released in South Korea. The director did not attempt to use 120 minutes to explain the ins and outs of the entire Gwangju incident. Instead, he chose to use a taxi driver as the main point of the view to cut into the story. The delicate emotions and reflections of humanistic care made the film different from other adapted films relating to the real events. The story is not complicated, but it is respectable that Koreans dare to bring such a sensitive theme to the screen.
Should we be blind to conceal and refuse to talk about the pain of the past, or should scars be revealed and confront the past? Without reflections on the history and the past mistakes, it is hard to achieve future progress and the development. It is admirable that Korean films dare to reflect on and criticize the government’s fault and the unhealthy phenomenon in reality, and showing them to the world. Those kind of phenomenal Korean films are all works with deep social and human depths that help to create a more diverse and open public opinion and atmosphere. This social atmosphere will undoubtedly be more conducive to the country’s construction and social development.
Having the audiences of local residents, Korean, and faces from other places around the world, and holding in Melbourne which is a typical multi-culture city, although KOFFIA is not a large-scale film festival, the cinema experience with Korean cultural and historical that it brings to the audiences are meaningful. Meanwhile, as an exhibition mode film festival, the programming framework of KOFFIA is also a great realistic example that we can learn from, and practice programming our own short film festival on campus. Focusing on the meanings of the selected films and the probable experiences we can bring to the audiences.