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Korean Film Festival Guide

2008/05/09 | 300 views | Permalink | Source

A calendar of cinema on the peninsula and abroad

Jung-yul Ogborne (junni)

There are enough film festivals in Korea to satisfy even the most hardcore film fanatic, in fact too many some in the industry would say. Whilst the major festivals such as Busan and Jeonju attract the biggest crowds, for those interested in the latest trends in Korean Independent Cinema the smaller festivals are also worth checking out.

Quality will be varied, but you might just be lucky enough to find a real cinematic gem or gain insight into a social issue that foreigners rarely get to hear about in Korea.

Buoyed by the boom in Korean cinema in the late 1990s, Korea has one of the largest populations of cinephiles anywhere in the world and when you combine this with the national passion for meeting together in big groups and getting drunk, it's easy to understand why the major festivals attract such large audiences.

The queues of people camping out overnight to get weekend tickets every year down in Busan pay testament to this enthusiasm, so it pays to book early if you want to see films that are likely to be popular at the bigger festivals.

Visiting film festivals is a great way to take in Korean culture and maybe explore a part of Korea you have not visited before, taking in local scenery and cuisine and maybe making some new friends too.

My personal favourites are Jeonju (progressive programming, awesome food) and Pucheon Fantastic Film Festival, as well of course EXiS for something a little different.

Busan has become kind of commercial in recent years, but there are still interesting films to be seen in some sections (if you can get a ticket) and it is worth a visit for the spectacle and to take in the atmosphere alone.

Chungmuro was a welcome new addition to the calendar last year, giving audiences young and old a rare chance to see classic films on the big screen, as well as lesser known works by outstanding directors you might not have heard of.

*The dates of these festivals vary slightly every year. Confirmed dates are for 2008, see the related Web sites for more details. The festival season runs roughly from May to October.



Seoul Independent Film and Video Documentary Festival (인디다큐페스티벌)
2008.3.28 - 4.3
Open the link


International Women's film Festival in Seoul (서울여성영화제)
Open the link

Udine Far East Film Festival
Confident, exciting programming makes this one of the best places to catch the best new pictures from Asia.
Udine, Italy / End of April
Open the link


Jeonju International Film Festival (전주국제영화제)
Jeonju City, Jeolla-buk do
Open the link

Seoul Human Rights Film festival (인권영화제)
Mid may, Seoul art Cinema
Open the link

Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival (서울국제만화애니메이션페스티벌)
Open the link

Independent Film and Video Makers Forum (인디포럼)
Indi-space, Seoul
Open the link

Busan Asian Short film Festival (부산아시아단편영화제)
End of May
Open the link


Seoul LGBT Film Festival (서울LGBT페스티벌)
Seoul Art Cinema
Open the link

Mise-en-scene's Genres Film Festival (Short Film Festival) (미쟝센단편영화제)
Yongsan, Seoul / End of June
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Bucheon Fantastic Film Festival PIFAN (부천판타스틱영화제)
Bucheon, Incheon / 2008.7.18 - 27
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Seoul International Youth Film Festival (서울국제청소년영화제)
Open the link


JeongdongJin Independent Film and Video Festival (정동진독립영화제)
Jeongdongjin, Gangwon-Do / Early August
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Jecheon International Film and Music Festival (제천국제음악영화제)
Jecheon, Chungcheonbuk-Do / mid August
"Launched in 2005, Jecheon International Music & Film Festival (JIMFF) is a celebration of film and music set in the beautiful landscapes of Jecheon City".
Open the link

EBS International Documentary Festival EBS (국제다큐멘터리페스티벌)
TV Broadcast Festival, showcasing documentaries from Korea and abroad on EBS End of August
Open the link

Fringe Festival (프린지 페스티벌)
Various venues around Seoul, End of August
Open the link

New York Korean Film Festival
Annual film festival hosted by the Korean Society of New York, End of August Open the link


Experimental Film and Video Festival in Seoul (EXiS) (서울국제실험영화제)
Korea's only Film festival dedicated to Experimental works.
Seoul Art Cinema & one other venue / early September
Open the link

Seoul International Film Festival (서울국제영화제)
Konkuk University Lotte Cinema / Mid September
Open the link

Jeju Film Festival (제주영화제)
Jeju Island, September
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Chunsa Film Festival (춘사대상영화제)
Seoul /Mid-September
Open the link

Resfest Korea (레스페스트디지털영화제)
Seoul, End of August (Currently Defunct)
Open the link

Korea Youth Film Festival & Dream Invitation Motion Picture Award (대한민국청소년영화제)
End of September
Open the link


Busan International Film festival (부산국제영화제)
Haeundae and other locations in Busan / early-mid october
Open the link

Seoul International Family Film Festival (서울국제가족영상축제)
Newly inaugurated festival of films on other activities based on the theme of family.
Jungdong Cinema & Mirospace Cinema - Gwangwhamun,Seoul / Mid-October

Daegu International Short Film Festival (대구단편영화제)
Daegu, Gyungsangnam-do / Late October
Open the link

Chungmuro Film Festival (서울충무로국제영화제)
Retrospective Film Festival
Chungmuro Area, Seoul / Late October
Open the link


Pucheon International Student Animation Festival (부천국제대학애니메이션페스티벌)
Pucheon, Incheon / Start of November
Open the link

Asiana International Short Film Festival (아시아나 국제단편영화제)
Cinecube Cinema - Gwanghwamun, Seoul / Early Nov
Open the link

Seoul New Media Festival (서울뉴미디어페스티벌)
Various venues aroud Seoul / mid November
Open the link

Gwangju International Film Festival (광주국제영화제)
Gwangju City, Late November
Open the link

Seoul Independent Film Festival (서울독립영화제)
IndieSpace (Jungang Cinema), Seoul / End of November
Open the link

Person with Disabilities Film Festival (장애인영화제)
Cinemas around Seoul / Early December
Open the link

University Film festival of Korea (대한민국대학영화제)
End of December
Open the link

Green Film Festival in Seoul (Hosted by the Korea Green Foundation) (서울환경영화제)
Open the link

Note on Screenings

If you don't speak Korean, please make sure subtitles will be shown before travelling to the screening! At every film festival I go to there are always a few people who make a bee-line for the door once the dialogue starts unaccompanied by translation, so please don't waste your time and check before hand. Please be warned that the fact a film festival calls itself 'international' is no guarantee that it will cater to non-Korean speaking audiences, especially for films where the dialogue is not in Korean or English.

I know myself how annoying it is to find a film in the program that you really want to see is not going to be subtitled in English, but having worked with festival subtitling teams I know what a huge task it is and many festivals simply do not have the resources to dedicate to the task -- especially when only a handful of foreigners are likely to be in the audience. Remember, we are in Korea after all .

Happy Viewing!

2008 OhmyNews

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