The 18th edition of the London Korean Film Festival (LKFF) recently announced its upcoming event, which will honor the 40th anniversary of the Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA). The festival is excited to announce its 2023 program and will hold the Opening and Closing ceremonies at the BFI Southbank, in honor of the 140th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the UK and Korea.
The Festival will take place from November 2nd to November 16th, 2023, featuring a lineup of 40 films under the categories of Cinema Now, Special Focus on KAFA’s 40th anniversary, Women’s Voices, Special Screenings, and Korea Season.
On November 2nd, the BFI Southbank festival will kick off with the screening of Hur Jin-ho’s film, “A Normal Family,” with the director in attendance. The film is adapted from the popular Dutch novel “Het Diner” (The Dinner) by Herman Koch, which has sold over a million copies. Director Hur Jin-ho’s latest work is a skillfully crafted family portrait and a dramatic story with unexpected twists, revealing deception within sibling and marital relationships.
Differences between generations caused by conflicting moral dilemmas.
On November 16th, the BFI Southbank will conclude its festival with Dr. Cheon and the Lost Talisman. This comedy action movie, based on the Korean webtoon ‘Possessed’ by Hoo and Kim Hong-tae, follows the story of a fraudulent exorcist who unexpectedly encounters a real case of demonic possession. Gang Dong-won (known for his roles in Broker and Peninsula) stars as Dr. Cheon, the fake exorcist. The film marks the directorial debut of Kim Seong-sik, who previously worked as an assistant director for Bong Joon-ho on Parasite (2019) and Park Chan-wook on Decision to Leave (2022).
Special Screenings include Riceboy Sleeps by Korean-Canadian writer-director Anthony Shim. Loosely based on his own life, Riceboy Sleeps is a drama about a Korean single mother raising her young son in Canada in the 1990s.
Cinema Now has a diverse selection of contemporary movies, including the latest from Korean cinema. First on the lineup is the LKFF’s annual showcase of Hong Sangsoo’s newest work, Walk Up, which reunites the director with actors Kwon Haehyo and Lee Hyeyoung from In Front of Your Face (2020). Hong’s black and white story explores the differences between public and private selves and how relationships evolve over time. Hail to Hell, written and directed by Lim Oh-jeong, is a captivating adventure and moral drama that combines imaginative storytelling. Director Lim will be present for a Q&A and talk session. Chang Hang-jun’s gripping neo-noir, Open The Door, reflects on the lives of a Korean family in New Jersey over two generations, using a non-linear narrative to suggest an inevitable outcome. Phantom, directed by Lee Hae-young, is a stylish spy adventure set during the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945) with a modern twist. GreenHouse, a debut feature by writer-director-editor Lee Sol-hui, follows Moon-jung (Kim Seo-hyung) as she struggles to raise funds to move out of her greenhouse and into a real home for her and her son. I Haven’t Done Anything, directed by Park Sang-min, begins with a YouTube-style documentary about former child actor Oh Tae-kyung, also known as “Little Oh Dae-su” for his role in Oldboy (2003).
humorously explores gender roles
The Women’s Voices section of the festival has consistently supported and promoted female filmmakers from the country, showcasing their extensive talents. The documentary A Table for Two, directed by Kim Bo-ram (known for For Vagina’s Sake), delves into the connection between anorexia and societal conditions and personal relationships experienced by women. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with cinematographer Kim Min-ju (known for A Letter from Kyoto). The Summer, directed by Han Ji-won (Sundance Film Festival Short Film Award Nominee) and based on a novel by Choi Eun-young (known for Shoko’s Smile and Someone Who Can’t Hurt Me), tells the story of a queer romance influenced by both external factors and individual aspirations. The strand also includes four short films: My Little Aunt, directed by An Sunyou, explores intergenerational women’s issues and the acceptance of discord in male-dominated spaces. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with director An Sunyou and actor Oh Jihoo. A Room of Two Women’s Own, directed by Hui Joan Jiyey, is a horror-fantasy drama that examines the responsibilities of caring for someone else’s domestic tasks. My Annoying Mother, directed by Lee Hyeji, is a short film about a mother and daughter learning to understand each other’s perspectives and lives. Lastly, Noh Gyeongmu’s How to Get Your Man Pregnant is an animated short that uses humor to explore gender roles.
Explores the subject of pregnancy and delivery from a creative and vibrant perspective.
Sung-hee (A Werewolf Boy)
The Special Focus Strand at the Korean Film Academy of Film Arts (KAFA) will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its establishment. KAFA was founded by the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) in 1984 and has since become the leading educational film institution in Korea. It has nurtured over 700 successful talents in the film industry, including renowned directors like Bong Joon-ho (Parasite), Hur Jin-ho (Christmas in August, A Normal Family), Choi Dong-hoon (Alienoid), and Jo Sung-hee (A Werewolf Boy).
Sung-hee, a character in the movie “Space Sweepers,” will be participating in a forum at the Korean Cultural Centre UK on November 10th as part of the 40th Anniversary celebration of KAFA. Two directors, Lim Oh-jeong (known for “Hail to Hell”) and Kim Min-ju (known for “A Letter from Kyoto”), who are both alumni of KAFA, will discuss the history of the Korean Film Academy and share their perspectives on the overall trends in the Korean film industry.
The KAFA strand, curated by Mo Eunyoung (programmer for the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival), features four full-length films and 11 short films. Tinker Ticker (2013) by Kim Jung-hoon is an unconventional exploration of social anxiety among young people in modern society. Mother Land (2022) by Park Jae-beom is the first Korean stop-motion feature film in over 40 years. INGtoogi: The Battle of Internet Trolls (2013) by Um Tae-hwa, his directorial debut, depicts the real-life consequences of online aggression. Our Body (2018) by Han Ka-ram is a captivating psychological drama centered on the female body and psyche. KAFA Shorts showcases a collection of short films created by KAFA students and alumni. Some of these films have been shown at domestic and international film festivals, while others are being presented to audiences for the first time. The shorts are divided into two programs: the first, titled “A Midsummer’s Fantasia: Films That Challenge Imagination,” includes groundbreaking films that push the boundaries of cinema. These films are characterized by their strong genre elements and their willingness to experiment with form and style. The screening includes 2001 Imagine (1994) by Jang Joon-hwan, who was praised for his creativity upon the film’s release, Scissors (1998) by Lee Gi-cheol, which delves into Korean modern history, and Giant’s Room (2012), an innovative animated film by Kim Si-jin. The second program of KAFA Shorts features Kim Se-in’s short film, which preceded her success with The Apartment with Two Women (2022), Container (2018), an urban drama about a young girl struggling to find her place in the world while living in a shipping container. The program also includes Don’t Step Out of the House (2008), directed by Jo Sung-hee (Space Sweepers), which won third prize at the Cannes Film Festival Cinefondation in 2009.
two short films.
The Korea Season presents a selection of eight movies divided into two categories: four films chosen by Choi Eun-young (the organizer of the Persons with Disabilities Film Festival in Korea) exploring the topic of disability, and four films in the Indie Talent category, which aims to showcase emerging filmmakers and established directors branching out into new territories. The first category consists of two full-length movies and two short films.
Two documentaries. My Lovely Angel is about a man who discovers a new purpose in life as he learns to communicate with a child who has both audio and visual impairments. The Q&A session after the screening will include the film’s directors, Lee Chang-won and Kwon Sung-mo. BSL interpretation will be available for the introduction and Q&A. Innocent Witness, directed by Lee Han and Lee Han.
Moon Ji-won and Ryu Hyungseok collaborated on the script for “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” which follows the journey of an autistic teenage girl named Ji-woo as she testifies in a murder trial. Meanwhile, Jeong Gwanjo’s “Nocturne” explores themes of trust, solidarity, prejudice, and understanding through the story of a Disabled man’s search for purpose in his life. The film also delves into disability within the context of family, history, and art, as a family with a talent for music struggles to reconcile their differences.
Kim Min-ju’s A Letter from Kyoto, featured in the Indie Talent category, explores the complex dynamics between three sisters and their mother. After the screening, there will be a Q&A session with the director. LKFF will also present the international debut of A Wing and a Prayer, directed by Lee Kwang-kuk (former assistant for Hong Sangsoo). The film follows two friends on a spontaneous trip to Korea’s east coast to make a wish at sunrise. Flowers of Mold, directed by Shim Hye Jung (known for A Bedsore, screened at LKFF 2019), is based on Ha Seong-nan’s short story of the same title and depicts a woman’s unsettling relationship with garbage and the secrets it holds. Lee Jeong-hong’s debut feature, A Wild Roomer, portrays flawed and contradictory characters in everyday life and has received multiple awards at the 2022 Busan International Film Festival, including New Currents Awards, NETPAC Award, Critic b Award, and KBS Independent Award.
The Korea Season was created by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korea Foundation for International Cultural Exchange, and the Korean Cultural Centre UK. It was established last year to promote cultural exchange between Korea and other countries. This year, the UK has been chosen as the host for the festival in celebration of the 140th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two nations. The festival will take place at various venues including BFI Southbank, Picturehouse Central, ICA, Ciné Lumière, Rio Cinema, Rich Mix, and the Garden Cinema.