The 11th Women`s Film Festival in Seoul (WFFIS) will kick off at Artreon Theater in Sinchon, western Seoul, on April 9, featuring 105 movies from 23 countries under the theme of "See the World Through Women`s Eyes."
"The overall economy is in bad shape, which makes it difficult to organize film festival events. Although we have trimmed down the festival scale, we want to focus on what we cannot lose," said Lee Hyae-kyoung, festival director of WFFIS, at a press conference held in Seoul yesterday.
Last year, the festival featured a record 141 movies, but the organizers decided to cut down on the number of films amid the growing concerns about the economic downturn. The festival, specializing in women`s perspectives and related issues, solidified its position in recent years as a key venue where not only local female filmmakers but also their Asian counterparts gather together to share their thoughts about their status in and outside of the film industry.
"The guiding principle of 2009 events is `a new beginning.` Films go beyond boundaries and nationalities, so we return to the basic issues of labor and poverty facing women at home and abroad," Lee said.
The festival will open with Jennifer Phang`s "Half-Life," a film depicting the anxiety of minorities in the United States.
The film festival, which will run through April 16, is basically non-competitive, but offers one competition section. In the Asian Short Film competition section, 18 applicants from four countries are competing for the top award. Foreign contenders in the section are "Be Beautiful" by Chen Michelle (Taiwan), "Goodbye by Song Fang (China), "Take Note" by Elite Zexer (Israel) and "With or Without You" by Chow She-Wei (Taiwan).
The jury committee is made up of Korean actress Gong Hyo-jin, director Lee Mi-yeon, director Jennifer Phang, culture critic Seo Dong-jin and a Japanese women`s film festival chief Yukiko Hibino.
In the section titled "On Aging," the festival plans to screen 13 films dealing with the aging, sex and love of women. "The popularity of `Old Partner` reflects the heightened public attention to the silver industry, and we want to explore the process of aging in this special section," said Son Hee-jeong, a festival programmer.
Major festival events include an international conference titled "Poverty and Women`s Labor in Globalization Era," and the Talk in Theater, a special program where audiences can interact with directors and experts on women`s issues.
WFFIS is regarded as a specialty festival that has successfully carved out a share in the increasingly crowded film festival market in Korea, as the organizers have long stuck to their novel approach to look at cultural aspects in a bid to form a new women-oriented cultural community.
The ticket price for opening, closing and nightly movies is set at 12,000 won while other films are available at 5,000 won each. For further information and ticket reservations, visit www.wffis.or.kr
By Yang Sung-jin