With the coming of spring comes another iteration of the Jeonju International Film Festival. While the scope of the Jeonju International Film Festival is quite large, on a year by year basis there's surprisingly little change between the essentials. This is because unlike other major South Korean film festivals, there's no sense of expansion being a priority in and of itself on a yearly basis. I spoke at length on the subject with Lee Jee-eun, the head of the media outreach team, and she made a point of emphasizing the fresh new feeling that's supposed to come to the festival every year.
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Happening right before the Presidential Election on May 9th, the Jeju International Film Festival fielded a lot of questions at press conferences this year about politics. The answers always fall into the same general pattern- movies depicts life, and life depicts politics, ergo, movies inevitably have to depict politics. It's a rather rote response at this point- JIFF was into politics long before it was cool, and monuments to Sewol can be found throughout the city. The "Project Cheonan Ship" controversy predates what happened with "Diving Bell" easily, and last year, "Spy Nation" and "Seven Years-Journalism without Journalist" provided a very ominous glimpse into what politics has become in South Korea.
In the course of my interview with Kim Soy she made a very instructive comment about Jeonju that I feels sums up the festival's overall atmosphere quite well. Kim Soy mentioned that in all of the years she has been here (which include work as Closing Ceremony host in 2015), you can always just see actors and directors and what-not hanging out in random nearby cafes. And if you want, you can always just drop in to chat with them. Not sure how many people would have the gumption to try but yes, you could do that.
The black and white opener of "The Battleship Island" focuses on a part of wartime economy rarely seen in film- the support staff. Specifically, the miners, who come up with the raw material that is later purposed into shiny toys for the military. The work is dangerous, especially under the stress of wartime quotas. But it's especially bad for the Korean characters of "The Battleship Island", who labor for the Japanese near the end of the doomed effort that was World War II in the Pacific.
Don't mistake "The Battleship Island" for mere torture porn about how the Japanese Empire was bad. I mean, it was bad, don't get me wrong. Director Ryoo Seung-hwan reminds us that while the men worked in horrible conditions, the women had it even worse- they became comfort women. Rather paradoxically, they were comfort women for the male Korean miners in addition to the Japanese soldiers, because everyone's actions for the war effort were considered, legally at least, to be equal.
A prominent SBS comedy program has announced its plans to terminate the show, potentially leaving behind rookie comedians who are already struggling to get in the spotlight.
The long-running SBS comedy program Comedy Hunter announced that its current season will end on May 31. The show runners emphasized that they do not plan on discontinuing the program, saying, We are planning a comedy program with a new format. The airing date and details of the upcoming season is to be determined.