KOFFIA-Mature film festival operation

Just few days ago, I attended the 9th Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) which hosted in Melbourne. In fact, the KOFFIA is returning film festival. It runs from August 9 to September though Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Canberra. The Korean Film Festival in Melbourne held near Flinder Street station in ACMI and it is very friendly for audience to watch films.

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Poster of KOFFIA

Since I’ve attended MIFF before, here’s a simple comparison. First of all, in terms of the audiences targeted by these two festivals, MIFF has a wider audience than KOFFIA because of the selection rules. MIFF shows documentaries, literary films and so on, while KOFFIA shows almost all Korean films. That’s probable a little more people in MIFF’s theaters than KOFFIA’s. (based on my experience at both festivals). In the theaters of KOFFIA, I feel like most people are speaking Korean. As for booking experience, both of two festivals’ booking process are almost same, but the difference between these two official websites is that KOFFIA website design more concise and beautiful. Audience who want to see a movie can get much more information in advance, which is related to the content of the film, trailers, etc. However, some film’s contents of are not complete yet, which may need some improvement. In addition, one point needs to be mentioned is the location problem. MIFF’s venue is not fixed, which may be inconvenient for those who watch more than one movie. And the venue of the 9th Korean Film Festival in Melbourne is just held in ACMI, so it is very convenient.

However, it is precisely because of the different Settings of different film festivals that the point of audience attraction for each film festival can be unique. In KOFFIA, a place for cultural consumption is provided for those who want to understand Korean culture and in Korea abroad, while MIFF is Build an enlightened, engaged society through film.

Believer and Korean crime films

Believer is an adaptative movie which is different from the details of the story described in the original and it will not be compared here. The thread of the movie is about the police to arrest drug traffickers. Cho Jin-woong acted the police Soo-jung as “revenger”. “Mr.Lee” in the movie murdered Soo-jung’s informant and provoked in public, even as a police Soo-jung can’t stand the insult, so the beginning of the story start from here.

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Poster of Believer

South Korean crime films typically use opposite scenes of revenge

Actually, this aspect is quite obvious in the film. The police want to revenge “Mr.Lee”, while “Mr.Lee” wants to utilize the police to revenge “Brian-Mr.Lee”. Through the contradiction between different characters, the film is more three-dimensional. Although the means of presentation is very simple and clear, the visual impact is still strong. For example, they used eyeballs to soak the wine and grill the scene of the living people, and show the mixed emotions of blood violence and humanity in a very depressing atmosphere.

However, Soo-jung’s role is a little different from previous south Korean crime dramas. I supposed that the end of the story would be the success of Mr.Lee’s revenge and escape, which seems as a way of expressing distrust of public power but the police finally found Mr.Lee, with an open and evocative ending.

Extreme personas

In South Korean crime films, the three most common images are a partially negative image of public power, a perpetrator and a tragic family relationship, and Believer is no exception. The boss of Soo-jung, a representative of public power, announced to the public that Mr.Lee had been arrested, but the audience knew that the real Mr.Lee was still at large. Villains are also very obvious: wild, elegant and timid Brian-Lee and the quiet as well as cruel Mr Lee. The description of family relationships in the movie more is for the drama series, “Mr. Lee” choose revenge because mother was killed in the plant explosion. This method is more likely to strengthen criminal drama tragedy, in order to gain audiences’ sympathy and empathy.

As for the end of the film I would like to talk about, the final shot, who was dead, I believe that every audience has their own understanding. Personally speaking, the identity of “Mr.Lee” has become so blurred that anyone can put on a mask and become a devil.

Reference:

Official website of KFFIA- Believer: http://www.koffia.com.au/portfolio-posts/believer/

The burning of life

It is very fortune that I could watch director Lee Chang-dong‘s movie Burning in the theatre during the period of MIFF. I have seen the trailer for the film earlier before it came out. The trailer is full of suspense and sombre atmosphere. At that time, I was curious to find out the reason why director Lee decided to shoot such a movie, and I was surprised to find that this film is an adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s short story barn burning, but the story expresses more about the social reality of Korea.

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One of the stills from Burning

The story begins with a young man named Jong-su, who aims to become a writer but actually performs odd jobs in Paju. His father, who ran the animal husbandry business, was caught up in legal trouble, forcing Jong-su to run around again in order to save his father. One day, Jong-su met with his childhood neighbour as well as classmate Hae-mi in a shopping mall and their relationship was very ambiguous during that period. Hae-mi have planned to travel to Africa, so she asked Jong-su to feed her cat Boil when she’s away. Soon after Hae-mi returned home with a man named Ben. Ben drives a Porsche, lives in a luxury apartment without job, and he looks better than Jong-su. It is very weird that Ben began to walk into the life of ordinary people Jong-su and Hae-mi and tells his new friend about his strange hobby. After a night of Jong-su ‘s party, Hae-mi seemed to vanish into thin air without informing, which was probably caused by Ben.

Like many Korean movies in recent years, Burning reflects the country’s class conflict and its concern for the meaning of personal survival. The people at the bottom are struggling to make a living, while those at the top are inclined to be weird because of their affluence. Similarly, in this social reality, their emotional requirement is hard to be satisfied. Burning obscured the boundaries of reality, dreams and creation in order to build up an enigmatic world, trying to connect the unsolved suspense presupposition with the unknowable rage of the younger generation by a “mystery” bridge. This film has class consciousness and the sense of “hunger”, which can be described as: when you forget the orange in your hand, there will be an orange in your heart; when you forget the invisible cat, the cat will appear in reality; the hunger of the poor people is the physical hunger, the hunger of the rich man is the mental hunger; the emptiness of anxiety is like a dry well, which cannot be solve by sex, alcohol and drugs; a fire to the barn of heart, the next barn will come out again.

The film sense of burning is derived from its vision and the metaphor it produced (metaphor is also mentioned from the dialogue of Ben’s cooking). More importantly, this movie uses visual efforts to stimulate the audience’s imagination, allowing the audience to complete the shaping of the film by themselves, rather than relying on simple dialogue or the straightforward plot to tell the direction of the story.

A good movie is not only to entertain the audience, but also to let the audience finish more understanding and thinking.

Sources: http://miff.com.au/program/film/burning

Fisrt expression of MIFF

Before I went to MIFF, the impression of film festival might be a more formal, organized and dignified cultural event, but after I started to experience with MIFF, my impression of the festival began to change. For example, different film festivals may screen different movies, and MIFF selected mainly short films. There’s another point really surprised me that the festivals I’ve seen on the news are almost related to the show of red carpets, celebrities, and different types of award shows. As for audience, the elements described above, though presented in MIFF, were more about the communication between the director, producer and audience (that’s probably because the first film I saw at MIFF was Undermined: Tales from The Kimberley).

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the shows before screening Undermined: Tales from The Kimberley

There are many angles to write about a film festival. I mainly talk about MIFF’s movie-watching experience and outlook. This year’s MIFF started on August 2 and ended on August 19. The films were screening in Forum Theatre, Kino Cinema and other venues. It might be a hassle for the audience who want to watch many movies among the film festival, and they had to cost more time here. In China, the venue for a film festival is usually fixed, which may be convenient for the audience. After the film, however, I came to a new understanding of this phenomenon. The movie-watching experience in different venues may be conducive to updating the audience’s standards for the movie-watching venues. Specifically, the audience’s requirements for the movie-watching venues have been raised after experiencing different venues. After receiving feedback from audiences, theatres will probably pay more attention to the need of watching equipments, so that the industry standards can be indirectly improved. Before I got ready to see Undermined: Tales from The Kimberley, I saw the audiences were queuing out of Forum Theatre. It’s still cold in the winter in Melbourne, so it might be better to queue indoors.

I was deeply impressed by the communication between the production team and audiences. Before screening Undermined: Tales from The Kimberley, the organizer from MIFF introduced us to production team of this film. One other actors of this film, Albert Wiggan, brought two fancy songs to audiences, which gave us a good mood of watching films. In the Q&A session after the screening, director Nicholas Wrathall and others answered a lot of questions about the motivation and purpose of this film, which enabled the audience to reconsider some problems caused by social development, and also advocated competent people to provide help to these remote areas. This was the first time that the distance between artistic creation and the audience was so close. Sometimes, the director’s creating motivation is very simple, and the audience really respects the efforts from film producers (many audiences initiatively applauded for the film after the end of the film). However, I understand that it is impossible that every production team will have close contact with the audience.

In short, my MIFF experience is quite good, which makes me discover some differences between Chinese film festivals and MIFF, but some aspects of MIFF need to be improved.

Reference:

MIFF information from Melbourne International Film Festival Official Website: http://miff.com.au/