The Jeonju International Film Festival is set to kick off its 10-day run on April 26, featuring 185 films from 37 countries. The eighth annual film fest, the largest in the southwestern region, focuses on independent films and their progressive perspectives.
The opening film is "Off Road"
, a drama directed by Han Seung-ryong
, which depicts the trouble-laden life of youth struggling on the fringes of society. The entire film was shot in the city of Jeonju, the film festival's venue.
"We did not select the film as the opening feature because it was shot in Jeonju", said Min Myung-rok, chief festival organizer. "But it is a fine Road Movie
that portrays the difficult lives of young people along with the beautiful landscape of South Jeolla Province".
Closing the festival is "Exiled", directed by Johnnie To of Hong Kong. This action film features a fight between gangster members, demonstrating the director's expertise in mixing realism and romanticism through action sequences.
JIFF has grown into one of the most important film festivals in Korea, celebrating chiefly digital, indie and art-house films.
This year's JIFF presents a newly integrated competition section. In the past, there were two different competitive sections, Indie Vision and Digital Spectrum. Organizers said the two sections have been merged into a new competitive section, which will be known as Indie Vision.
"The film festival originally placed great importance on digital technology as an alternative channel for creative indie filmmakers, but today's digital-oriented trend makes the distinction redundant", organizers said.
The section screens feature films and documentaries with a running time of more than 60 minutes. A jury of three renowned film professionals will select the best film, which will be given the Woosuk Award and $10,000.
JIFF has been introducing talented indie filmmakers to Korean audiences through the section. Past award winners include Nobuhiro Suwa's "Mother" (2000), Apitchapong Weerasehakul's "Mysterious Object at Noon" (2001), Yan Yan Mak's "My Annoying Brother" (2002), and Denis Cote's "Drifting States" (2006).
This year, Indie Vision features 12 films including "Aria" by Takushi Tsubokawa, "The Other Half" by Ying Liang, and "Potosi, the Journey" by Ron Havilio.
Additional prize money is also available for Korean directors participating in the Korean film trend section, in order to encourage Korea's indie filmmakers. Supporting Korean indie productions since the festival's foundation, JIFF organizers said they hope this year's colorful repertoire will help unearth more creative and progressive films.
International attention for the festival is growing, as demonstrated by the increase in submissions from overseas. Some 1,035 films from 51 countries were submitted for this year's festival, a record. A third of those submissions were from overseas.
JIFF's famous omnibus section, dubbed "short! short! short!", will expand on the digital shorts format to include films from Europe as well as Asia, providing visitors with new films that explore the new aesthetics of digital media.
Retrospective and special programs are also expected to meet the diverse tastes of movie buffs visiting Jeonju. The Discovery section, introducing eight Turkish films, will go hand in hand with an event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and Turkey. The Retrospective section will showcase nine films of Peter Watkins, a pioneer of the alternative film genre.
For further information, call (063)-288-5433 or visit the festival's official website at Open the link
By Yang Sung-jin