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20th annual Jeonju IFF to commemorate 100 years of Korean film

The upcoming Jeonju International Film Festival will be a celebration of the festival’s 20th anniversary, looking at a century of Korean filmmaking and different forms of cinema.

“We (at Jeonju IFF) strongly believe that the essence of the film lies not in its technology, but in the free-flowing expression,” said Kim Seung-soo, chairman of the Jeonju IFF organizing committee, at a press conference in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, Wednesday, where the opening and closing films for one of the largest independent film festivals in the country were announced.

“Commemorating our 20th anniversary, we decided to step beyond the expression of resistance and focus on various form of expression,” Kim said, elaborating that the festival’s role lies in ensuring that the art stays independent of political power, capitalism and confinements of social norms, the slogan for this year’s festival is “Cinema, liberated and expressed.”

Kim Seung-soo (center), chairman of the organizing committee of Jeonju International Film Festival, speaks during a press conference held Wednesday in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province. (Jeonju IFF)
Kim Seung-soo (center), chairman of the organizing committee of Jeonju International Film Festival, speaks during a press conference held Wednesday in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province. (Jeonju IFF)

Kicking off the festival, slated for May 2-11, will be Claudio Giovannesi’s “Piranhas,” a story about a gang of heavily armed teenage boys roaming the streets of Naples. The closing film for the festival will be Guy Nattiv’s “Skin,” starring Jamie Bell, which is a biographical drama following the life of former skinhead group member Bryon Widner.

Both the opener and closer will be marking their Asian premiere at the festival. The cast and director of “Piranhas” have been invited to participate in the festival, and organizers are planning to invite Bell, according to programmer Lee Sang-yong.

The biggest change this year will be featured at the Factory of Contemporary Arts. At the former cassette tape factory-turned-art exhibition hall, the “Expanded Plus” program will be held to commemorate the 20 years of the festival.

The exhibition derives from the “Expanded Cinema” section of Jeonju IFF, which has been introducing experimental films and will feature art forms of the movies. Works of 10 artists -- James Benning, Ben Rivers, Ju Anqi, Kevin Jerome Everson, Natalia Marin, Malena Szlam, Jang Woo-jin, Jodie Mack, Peter Bo Rappmund and Adam R. Levine -- will be featured at the new program.

The festival has also expanded the competitive section for both Korean and international films, creating an acting award for the Korean section while increasing the size of reward for the international one.

The judges for the international film competition are Gyorgy Palfi, Eva Sangiorgi, Nahuel Perez Biscayart, Won Dong-yeon and Uhm Jung-hwa. Korean films will be judged by James Lattimer, Antoine Thirion and Kim Hee-jung, while Korean shorts will be judged by Mowg and Moon Choi.

Various events will be held at the Jeonju Dome and in the streets of the city, with globally popular film franchise “Star Wars” smack in the middle of it all on May 4. Music performances, Lego and other exhibitions will be featured on Movie Street in Gosa-dong to commemorate “Star Wars.” Fans of the franchise around the world celebrate May 4th for its similarity to its iconic line, “May the force be with you.”

“Netro Jeonju” section will shine light on directors who have played important roles in past festivals by inviting them to screen new films and participate in events.

In celebration of the Korean film history, special focus sections on Korean films -- one on films from the 20th century and another on movies in the 21st century, titled “Another Upspring of Korean Cinema” and “Wild at Heart,” respectively -- will be held. Other focus sections are “Roy Andersson: Exhibition of Human Being” and a screening of the “Star Wars” films.

Perhaps the section that best represents the festival’s experimental spirit is “Fontline,” screening some of the most peculiar forms of cinema today. This includes Argentinian director Marianos Llinas’ “La Flor” which consists of six consecutive independent stories and is 814 minutes long. Organizers said the film will be screened nonstop. 

By Yoon Min-sik