21st Seoul International Women’s Film Festival – Awards 2019

SIWFF2018logoWe present the winners of the 21st Seoul International Women’s Film Festival which took place from August 30th until September 5th (2019) in Seoul, South Korea.

About the festival:
Since its inception of 1997, SIWFF has tried to live up to its slogan, “See the World through Women’s Eyes,” by focusing on the discovery of female cineastes and secured its position as a hub of women’s film network as well as one of renowned international women’s film festivals.

International Competition
Best Film

Take me somewhere nice

Take me somewhere nice by Ena Sendijarevic
Netherlands, Bosnia & Herzegovina | 2019 – 91 minutes

Take Me Somewhere Nice, a combination of the road movie with a coming of age film, might be far away from a resort or homecoming movie. Directed by Bosnian-born Dutch director Ena Sendijarevic, the film apparently pursues Jim JARMUSCH’s absurd comedy and deadpan humor. Take Me Somewhere Nice, SENDIJAREVIĆ’s feature debut, won the Tier Award at this year’s Rotterdam Film Festival. Alma, a Dutch girl of Bosnian descent, decides to take a trip to Bosnia by herself to visit her sick father, whom she has never Teenager Alma has no fear to travel and see someone new. The goal to visit her father becomes challenging because of her aimless and indecisive inertia. The film goes against a stereotypical representation of Eastern Europe, like Bosnia, but it conveys a slightly cynical atmosphere through the dialogue. It has a firm style like candy-tone colors, unconventional angles and shallow images, while the story is unpredictable, like Alma’s waywardness and aimlessness. Take Me Somewhere Nice resembles a teenager’s inner world, which has no tension or defense against others. The cabaret and magic show are David LYNCH-like, taking place in a theater location where the expressionless girl sees her inner world. Western and Eastern Europe reflect each other in frequent double frames. [SONG Hyojoung]




Best Director

Summer Survivors

Summer Survivors by Marija Kavtaradze
Lithuania | 2018 – 91 minutes

Indre, a psychology graduate, goes to a psychiatric hospital to undertake research regarding biofeedback. She is given the job of transporting two patients – Paulius, a man with bipolar disorder, and Juste, a woman who attempted suicide – to another psychiatric hospital in Palanga. Indre isn’t yet a qualified doctor so is anxious regarding their care, however while the patients initially don’t talk much and the journey is full of unexpected events, they slowly become closer and even exchange jokes. From time to time, the film captures Paulius and Juste’s faces as they watch the outside world, revealing the complexity of their emotions. The director intelligently employs tension to keep audiences guessing – will the journey end successfully? Is it possible to really know who your friends are? Is a person’s mind like a machine? Such pertinent questions will stay with viewers. [JANG Rhana]



Special Jury Prize


Hormigas by Antonella Sudasassi – Costa Rica, Spain | 2019 – 94 minutes

A woman squeezes whipped cream little by little. Suddenly, she is lost in the thought of squashing the cake with her hands. Isabel lives with her husband and two girls in the Costa Rican countryside. Her life is peaceful. She does household chores and earns some extra money through sewing. Her husband and in-laws want a third child—a son. However, she wants to design her own clothes and open a boutique. In the light and heat of Latin America, the film is full of everyday sounds and bodily senses. The camera delicately captures how Isabel washes her hair, combs her daughters’ hair, uses her sewing machine, and touches different textiles. The title Hormigas means “ants” in Spanish. As ants keep coming up to tables, sofas, and human bodies no matter how hard we brush them away, Isabel often feels uncomfortable with numb dizziness. Against the backdrop of tension and noise in everyday relationships, the portrayal of women’s emotions and desires is remarkable. [LEE Hunmi]




Korean Comeptition
Best Korean Film

Us Day by Day

Us, Day by Day by Kangyu Garam – Korea | 2019 – 85 minutes

In late 1990’s, a new student movement trend emerged around college districts. They incisively raised issues about patriarchy and violence compared to previous movements and were radical in nature, demanding a different tomorrow. They were called “Young Feminists”. Us, Day by Day follows the director, who was one of the young feminist college students, as she visits her former colleagues to find out where they stand as a new wave of feminism starts to become widespread.

Now in their forties, they have different concerns due to their different jobs, neighborhoods, and family types, but the concerns and critical minds they had in their twenties as young feminists are still present. They’re still fighting “the good fight” and bonding with local women, as an animal rights activist, as a married couple breaking the standard of men as breadwinners, as a women’s health movement activist, as a feminist singer, and as a veteran anti-sexual assault activist. The director traces how the concerns the young feminists had in their twenties have transformed, the evolution of which is certainly comforting to see; and the older and younger young feminists will find clues as to how to start conversations with feminists of different generations and experiences. [LEE Youngju]




Asian Short Competition
Best Film and Audience Award


Dots by Baekkot Narae – Korea | 2019 – 38 minutes

When the director of this film attends a Hangul, the Korean alphabet, class for seniors alongside her grandmother, she discovers common marks on their bodies. This is their way to record and remember things because they were excluded from literacy education as children. The film traces their untold stories and their own language, while at the end of the movie there’s an introspective question about film as a visual medium and language, as the grandmother holds a camera. [BAE Juyeon]



Best Director


Freckles by Kim Jihee – Korea | 2019 – 27 minutes

Youngshin is sent to a weight loss camp by her mother, but has no interest in it. Yet her roommate Joohee, who dreams of becoming a Youtube influencer after ‘improving’ her appearance, makes a plan to complete weight loss and thus receive a full refund from the camp. The film captures the lives of two teenagers as they deal with the struggles of achieving dreams and the discrimination of others, while also expressing the swirling emotions of friendship and love. [BAE Juyeon]




I-Teens Competition
BNP Paribas Grand Award


Memoir by Park Kyueun – Korea | 2019 – 20 minutes

High schooler Eungyu leaves home and earns a living with a part-time job at a barbecue restaurant. Her sole comfort is smoking. One day, she is caught stealing cigarettes and is taken to the police station. Seokhwan, who is studying to become a youth counselor, defends Eungyu although it’s all a pretense in order to earn a certificate. Actress KIM Jihyun, who plays Eungyu, provides a great performance and excels at expressing cold smiles and compassion through her eyes, which subtly criticizes the hypocrisy of adults and patriarchal culture. [KWON Eunhye]



BNP Paribas Award


Moment by Lee Daeun – Korea | 2019 – 8 minutes

A girl presses the buttons for every floor in an elevator. Her mysterious behavior can be explained through interpreting several signs that occur as the short film progresses. Moment seems to ask audiences to react more sensitively when noticing the signs from victims of domestic violence. [KWON Eunsun]



Late Night

Late Night, Going Home by Keum Jungyun – Korea | 2018 – 10 minutes

This short film starts with the sound of a radio and a nitpicking of a mother. Late night following evening study after school, a high school girl feels someone following her. Going home should be the most familiar, comfortable and safe path. However, Late Night, Going Home explains the journey can be threatening for women. [KWON Eunsun]




Pitch & Catch Feature Film
Megabox Grand Award
Rematch by Eunhee (Producer: Jeong Moongu)

Pancinema Award
The Children by Kim Hyuntak (Producer: Kim Inae)

Audience Award
Happy New Year! By Han Jihye (Writer: Kim Taeyon)

Megabox Award
Happy New Year! By Han Jihye (Writer: Kim Taeyon)
My Wonder Women by Kyung Jisuk (Producer: Choi Soogyeong)
Doom Doom by Jung Wonhee

Pitch & Catch Documentary
Ock Rang Award & Audience Award
Trash Otaku by Yu Hyemin (Producer: Shin Hyein)

Post Fin Award
Homeground by Kwon Aram

Homeground by Kwon Aram
The Meryl Streep Project by Park Hyosun
The Circle of Sand by Park Jaemin
All Hail The King – The Women Who Became Kings by Park Yeji

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