These are ten films you shouldn’t miss at the London Korean Film Festival which will take place from November 3 – 17, 2022 in cinema venues across London.
Broker by Hirokazu Kore-eda – Korea | 2022 – 129 minutes
Sang-hyun(Song Kang Ho) runs a laundry shop, but is constantly saddled with debt. Dong-soo (Gang Dong Won), who grew up in an orphanage, works in a baby box facility. One night in the pouring rain, they secretly carry off an infant who was left at the baby box. But on the following day, the mother So-young (Lee Ji Eun) unexpectedly returns for her son Woo-sung. Realising that her baby has been taken, she is about to call the police when the two men tell her everything. Their claim that they stole the baby in order to find him a good home seems outrageous, but So-young ends up joining Sang-hyun and Dong-soo on a journey to find new parents for Woo-sung. Meanwhile, the police detective Su-jin (Doona Bae) and her younger colleague Detective Lee (Lee Joo Young) are silently tailing the group, hoping to catch them in the act at all costs to wrap up their half-year investigation. (LKFF 2022)
November 10, 2022 | Thursday | Picturehouse Central | 8:30 pm | Buy your tickets HERE
Screening followed by a Q&A with Darcy Paquet, film critic and English-language subtitle translator – Broker (2022), Parasite (2019), The Handmaiden (2016), On the Beach at Night Alone (2017)
Coming to You by Byun Gyu-ri – Korea | 2021 – 93 minutes
Since early age, Hangyeol has experienced gender dysphoria. They share this with their firefighter mother, but are disappointed by her response. Yejun’s mum is a flight attendant for an international airline, and considers herself in the know when it comes to gender-related issues, but when her son comes out as gay, she breaks out in sobs. These two mothers, faced with the unexpected coming-out of their children, come head to head with this new identity of parent of a queer child.
Hangyeol and Yejun’s mothers become members of the ‘Queer Children’s Parents Club’, and give themselves new names: ‘Nabi’ and ‘Vivian’. Recording the journey to change that began here, Coming to You is a documentary shot through a supportive gaze. In 2016 director Byun Gyu-ri – member of PINKS, a group that produces films for the culture and rights of sexual minorities – made a promotional video for the Queer Children’s Parents Club, of which Coming to You was an outcome. (LKFF 2022)
November 9, 2022 | Wednesday | Rio Cinema | 8:45 pm | Buy your tickets HERE
Gyeong-ah’s Daughter by Kim Jung-eun – Korea | 2022 – 117 minutes
The film opens to mum Gyeong-ah’s face – she is on a video call with daughter, Yeon-su, who has moved away from home. Care-worker Gyeong-ah lives by herself. Yeon-su is her mother’s rock, but Gyeong-ah barely ever sees her daughter now that she’s moved out. Yeon-su is struggling with her ex-boyfriend, who refuses to let go of their relationship. One day, Yeon-su’s ex forwards a video to Yeon-su’s family and acquaintances, and her world comes crumbling down. Gyeong-ah is appalled by the video, and it drives a huge wedge between her and her daughter. Yeon-su, despite isolating herself from everyone, fights alone to get her life back, and Gyeong-ah does what she can to help her.
Gyeong-ah’s Daughter is a thoughtful consideration of digital sex crime, as well as the complex relationship between mother and daughter. – Hwang Miyojo
November 13, 2022 | Sunday | Cine Lumiere | 7:00 pm | Buy your tickets HERE
Screening followed by Q&A with film’s director, Kim Jung-eun.
Hot in Day, Cold at Night by Park Song-yeol – Korea | 2021 – 90 minutes
However bad things get, married couple Young-tae (Park Song-yeol) and Jeong-hee (Won Hyuang-ra) promise themselves that they will never borrow from loan sharks. But with both of them out of work, scraping by on the occasional odd job, their circumstances only continue to worsen. Eventually, without telling her husband, Jeong-hee begins to contemplate the unthinkable.
Hot in Day, Cold at Night might look from its plot summary to be a depressing tale of economic hardship, but filmmaking-screenwriting duo Park Song-yeol and Won Hyang-ra – who also play the leading roles – have an entirely different tone in mind. Although not quite a comedy, the film’s finely-calibrated blend of sardonic humour and touching vulnerability have made this one of the year’s most talked-about Korean independent films. Shot on a miniscule budget, Hot in Day, Cold at Night shows how it is possible to create remarkable art out of the most basic materials. – Darcy Paquet
November 8, 2022 | Tuesday | Genesis Cinema | 8:45 pm | Buy your tickets HERE
I am More by Lee Il-ha – Korea | 2021 – 81 minutes
A promising ballerina, More gave up the dream and has been working as a drag queen artist for 20 years. One day, John Cameron Mitchell, in Seoul for a run of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, catches More’s show. Soon after More is invited to perform in New York for the 50th anniversary of Stonewall Uprising.
In this, his third documentary film, Lee Il-ha appears to have met a protagonist who fully resonates with his own style: Mo Jimin, queer drag artist who majored in ballet at art school. I Am More is as much Mo Jimin’s film as it is Lee Il-ha’s. The stage name More, or ‘Mo-uh (毛魚)’, meaning ‘hairy fish’, is also the title of Mo Jimin’s essay collection published at the beginning of this year. Lee Il-ha has consistently focused his interest on those who have been captured by the idea of ‘life as a stage’. The stage is a boxing ring (A Crybaby Boxing Club, 2014), as well as a road upon which ‘counter’-protest against peddlers of hate speech unfolds (Counters, 2017). Unbound by the conventions of documentary-based objectivity, Lee Il-ha’s style maximises the fantastical nature of the concept of ‘life as a stage’ that has captured I Am More’s protagonist. – Yoo Un-seong
November 13, 2022 | Sunday | Rio Cinema | 2:00 pm | Buy your tickets HERE
Melting Icecream by Hong Jinhwon – Korea | 2021 – 70 minutes
Melting Icecream is assumed to be a record of the 1990s democratisation movement, but the work actually began with the discovery of severely flood-damaged film. Although the work started out as a documentation of the film’s restoration process, the end product is anything but a simple record. Mixed in amongst the portrayal of the restoration process are interviews with photographers part of the so-called ‘democracy generation’; archive footage of conflict scenes in the 2000s over temporary working conditions and struggles over migrant workers; scenic shots, either devoid of people or where the individual’s identity is not revealed; videos taken beside statues with unseen faces.
The feature-length debut of photographer and art director Hong Jinhwon throws the traditional sense of documentary into disarray with his unique audio-visual arrangement. – Yoo Un-seong
November 15, 2022 | Tuesday | Cine Lumiere | 6: 30 pm | Buy your tickets HERE
Return to Seoul by Davy Chou – Korea | 2022 – 119 minutes
Born in Korea but brought as a baby to France for adoption, free-spirited Freddie Benoît (Park Ji-min) travels on a whim to Seoul when her flight to Tokyo is cancelled, and just as spontaneously sets in motion the processes to find her birth parents. Over several years, and several revisits, her sense of individualism will be tested, her embrace of rootlessness will be loosened, and her negotiation of family will be lost in translation.
In Davy Chou’s sensitive study of the way identity shifts over time and with age, the complicated, engaging lead character prevents the drama drifting into melodrama, even as her maudlin Korean birth father (Oh Kwang-rok) also changes. If the very inclusion of a partly French film whose protagonist barely speaks any Korean might seem peculiar in a Korean film festival, the complexities of provenance are also a principal theme here. – Anton Bitel
November 12, 2022 | Saturday | Cine Lumiere | 8:35 pm | Buy your tickets HERE
Seire by Park Kang – Korea | 2021 – 102 minutes
Seire (aka samchil-il) is the 21-day period of postpartum confinement for a newborn and its mother, during which special dietary measures are observed, saekki ropes are hung over the threshold, visits are restricted, and family members are supposed to avoid anything ill-omened. Recent father Jin Woo-jin (Seo Hyun-woo) ignores the superstitions of his wife Hae-mi (Sim Eun-woo) and breaks a taboo by attending the funeral of his ex-girlfriend Se-young (Ryu Abel), presided over by her identical twin Ye-young.
Has the baby I-su come under a curse from the breath-hungry dead, or is Woo-jin working through his own conflicted feelings and deep-seated guilt about having become a father? Eschewing sensationalism or special effects, Park Kang’s intense, ambiguous feature is a subtle, serious, slow-burn exposé of one man’s inner psyche, both waking and dreaming. – Anton Bitel
November 11, 2022 | Friday |1 Picturehouse Central | 9:00 pm | Buy your tickets HERE
The Fifth Thoracic Vertebra by Park Syeyoung – Korea | 2021 – 62 minutes
With Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977), Possession (1981) and A Ghost Story (2017) as its nearest analogues, Park Sye-young’s experimental fungal slasher tracks a mattress, and the spores growing on it, as they pass through the hands of different owners and users, including lovers at different stages of their relationships and a terminally ill woman. As the fungus rapidly evolves and subtly apes the manners of its human hosts, it vampirically absorbs a vertebra from each to build itself into anthropomorphic form.
A melancholic, monstrous romantic horror with a very unusual take on time, this sets human dramas and dreams against a much broader, more irrational canvas of nature. Episodic and abstract, its utterly gonzo premise drifts to an ending of unexpected sadness and awe. Meanwhile Park’s (non-horror) short Cashbag, which follows a man in a series of nocturnal transactions, ends in a similar waterside location. – Anton Bitel
November 10, 2022 | Thursday | Genesis Cinema | 8:50 pm | Buy your tickets HERE
The Hill of Secrets by Lee Ji-eun – Korea | 2022 – 122 minutes
12-year old Myung-eun (Moon Seung-a) is naturally ambitious, and anxious to please her 5th-grade teacher. President of her class, she wins over the support of the other students with a letterbox where anyone can leave confidential suggestions and queries. But there is tension at home, and Myung-eun feels that her crude-talking mother and lazy father who run a stall in the local market are best kept a secret from her classmates and teacher. Gradually a gap begins to grow between the identity Myung-eun constructs for herself in school, and the life she leads at home.
Set in 1996, The Hill of Secrets begins in what feels like familiar territory for Korean independent cinema, but it gradually expands in breadth and scope to take on some unexpected themes. Presented with sensitivity by debut director Lee Ji-eun, the film is powered by a luminous performance from Moon Seung-a (The Voice of Silence, Scattered Night), one of Korean cinema’s most exceptional child actors. – Darcy Paquet
November 5, 2022 | Saturday| Garden Cinema | 8:30 pm | Buy your tickets HERE
For more information, please visit: https://www.koreanfilm.co.uk
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