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Inaugural Korean Film Festival

Inaugural Korean Film Festival

22 – 31 October 2004 At the Sky City Theatre

The growing love for Asian films sees the Inaugural Korean Film Festival launch itself with a battle cry that’s being heard all over the world.

After months of hard work the Korean Cinerama Trust is putting the final touches to an affair that started off with love for cinema, instigated by the First Citizen of this country.

It was Helen Clark who called everyone to “action” when she discussed with the Korean President last year July about working towards drafting a film co-production agreement between the two countries.

Asia 2000 Foundation then approached Korean born broadcaster Melissa Lee who through her extensive contacts gathered together a group of Korean film enthusiasts and local Korean film directors to take the quest for a fest into the next act.

Months of weekends were spent by the working committee viewing numerous Korean films produced in the last four years. The hard but enjoyable slog has now come to an end with 12 top rating Korean films ready to stimulate the senses of NZ cinema buffs.

The 10 day film fest at Auckland’s Sky City Theatre which starts on the 22nd of October charges off with Korea’s most successful and highest grossing film in American cinema history. Tae guk gi, “the brotherhood of war” by director Kang Je-Gyu (who will be attending the opening night in Auckland) took almost 400-thousand dollars, capturing the second highest earnings on 29 American screens over just one weekend. This war drama has left behind even some American films with praises for the film coming from almost all prominent media in the US.

Other sub-titled action movie will be director Park Chan-Wook’s Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, described as a hard boiled Asian thriller, which is being praised by the BBC as one of the best Korean films to be screened in England in a very long time. Park recently won at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival for his film “Old Boy”.

But it’s not all about action, the festival also showcases “Untold Scandal” a delightful tale about the Chosun dynasty’s greatest Casanova and Jezebel who join forces to corrupt a young widow. From the naughtiest period drama to “My Sassy Girl”, the romantic comedy hit of 2001, the Korean Film Festival has a movie for every type of movie goer.

If only action and romance is not good enough on their own, then the “Spirit of Jeet Kun Do: Once Upon A Time In High School” will satisfy those looking for complete entertainment in one movie. This action movie inspired by one of the worlds most famous martial artists of all time, Bruce Lee, and school yard experiences of the director Yoo Ha promises to be a film that everyone can relate to regardless of age.

One of the twelve movies also tackles the contemporary issue of the tense relationship between North and South Korea. “Double Agent” takes a deeper look at the almost unkown history of sacrifices made by spies from both Korea’s over several decades. This gripping drama set in the 80’s brings to attention the covert war which is still being waged in the Korean peninsula.

The Festival also celebrates the empowerment of women with an unusual tale. This flip side of the genre coin introduces the age of the female action hero, in “My Wife Is A Gangster”. Outrageous personalities and over the top character names and action breaks down stereotypes in a film that promises to have the most dramatic fight scene in Korean cinema history.

And the female influence to get these movies recognition on the other side of the world continues with Melissa and her team and have decided the film festival will run every two years with Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch targeted in 2006. In the spirit of film industry exchange, NZ films will be showcased in Korea every alternate year starting next year.

The long term trade relationship between NZ and Korea is now firmly being taken to another level thanks to the vision of people who not only desire for better relations between the cultures but also unselfish people who’ve sacrificed hundreds of hours to bring to all the peoples of NZ, cinema that’s gaining popularity in leaps and bounds all over the world.

The Korean Film Festival website is: http://www.NZKFF.com The list of films are: TaeGukki (aka Brotherhood of War), Failan, My Sassy girl, Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, The Spirit of Jeet Kun Do (aka Once Upon a Time in High School), Untold Scandal, Double agent, No Blood No Tears, The Classic, My wife is a Gangster, Dance with the Wind and The Phone.

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