It is not a news for countries utilize cinema as a vehicle to create and maintain a nation identity on international stage. Everyone knows that film festival is existing to showcase new films. However, branding one’s national identity has also become a main job for those large scale international film festivals. That is not to say there is nothing relevant to small scale film festivals.
With the experience attending Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA), I feel that the film festival has somehow became a medium to tie up the Korean community in Australia. This is the 9th Korean Film Festival in Australia since 2009. There are 22 brilliant Korea made films going to be presented from 9 August, 2018 to 23 September, 2018 among four cities in terms of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra. Apparently KOFFIA is a relative smaller scale film festival compares to Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF). Differ to MIFF attracted a diverse range of audience, the main audience in KOFFIA are mainly Korean as I saw. Thus, it is supposed that KOFFIA did not take promoting the identity of Korea to international audience as its main duty but aim to engender a sense of nationhood among Korean community in Australia.
As we could see from the Program Guide of KOFFIA, it is organized by Korean Culture Centre AU and has many government-related partners such as Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (see as picture 1). The Embassy of the Republic of Korea to the Commonwealth of Australia, Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Sydney and Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Melbourne are the festival partners of KOFFIA. The volunteer application of KOFFIA in Melbourne 2018 was also managed by Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Melbourne (see as picture 2). In addition, most of its sponsors are Korean corporates such as NENE CHICKEN. As it shows on the Facebook page of KOFFIA (see as picture 3), people can get free snack with the ticket of 2018 KOFFIA. Moreover, before the film A TAXI DRIVER started, there was a promotion video of winter Korea by Korea Tourism Organization. To sum up, KOFFIA is obviously supported by Korean government departments.
Though, KOFFIA tried to promote Korea as a tourism country and presents good quality films to international audience of all tastes and cultural backgrounds, it apparently became a social platform took film as a means with the fact that most audiences are Korean. From my view, it is a temporary, spectacle programed festival for Korean who live in Australia. This community were gathered to meet each other and share the very moment with their shared language, culture and nationhood. Therefore, I see film festival as a medium which can help to engender a sense of nationhood. Take it to a smaller scope, film festival can be a medium for certain community to celebrate their shared values.
The 9th Korean Film Festival in Australia Program Guide