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[HanCinema Korea's Diary] SESIFF: Forget BIFF this Year, head to Guro!

2011/10/01 | Permalink

In the shadow of a little film festival in Busan next week, another festival is happening now in Seoul that shows anyone can make a film worthy of recognition. The 3rd Seoul International Extreme-Short Image & Film Festival (SESIFF) is showcasing some 387 creative and imaginative films by filmmakers from around the world.

The festival is taking advantage of the "extremely" short film format (with 5-minutes being the limit) as they can be enjoyed in a variety of innovative ways: there are the general screenings that can be found at CGV Guro and Sindorim's new D-Cube City; subway screenings of films at subway guide machines and monitors within specific stations; outdoor screenings in the new D-Cube Park; online screenings via www.sesiff.org; and mobile screenings to catch on your mobile smart phone. SESIFF has definitely embraced the medium here and there is so much content to soak up if you have the stamina.

The festival's motto is "Anyone Can Make A Film". With the flood of techno wonders in our lives, the moving image has become one that we can not only consume but also create with ease. I attended on of screenings at CGV Guro and when the time came for the post-screening Q&A with some of directors, it was clear that the motivation and justification for what was shown does not always have to be as thoughtful and deliberate as some might expect. Half the joy of capturing our everyday lives lies in the unpredictability of the subject. Many of the filmmakers wanted to express a single idea or thought, rather than receive praise for their deliberately thought through productions.

Kim Kyungia's "I am here now" is just such a film. Her car broke down in the mountains within China's Yunnan Province. She started to film the landscape while the car was being seen to when she came across an elementary school. With camera in hand and a monitor, she started to film the children that swarmed around her. It's beautifully simple and strangely enjoyable to watch these children watch themselves on the monitor with such joy and fascination. It's pure and unadulterated cinema that asks not questions and gives no answers.

Although some of the films were shot without the intention of being screened, most are consciously constructed. In the International Competition section I voted for Hong Seokhee's "A Family Album". It's a 2-minute drama/documentary on his family. A static frame encompasses his family room with the kitchen clearly visible in the background. His mother, farther, two sisters, and himself are all in the frame simulating a normal moment at his house. There is no dialogue (other than the music coming from the T.V.) and, as the director says, no conflict. It's a peaceful scene, or though some would say morbid, that serves as a moving family portrait. It contains all the posing and posturing that a professional family shoot would contain, except this family album is an illusion, an act with actors that involves such subtle ironies that didn't go unappreciated.

The Seoul International Extreme-Short Image & Film Festival is happening now till the 4th of October. If you can't get down to Busan to quench your filmic thirst, be sure to visit either CGV Guro or D-Cube City and vote on your favourite!

-C.J. Wheeler (chriscjw@gmail.com)

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