Korean Cinema at HIFF Spring Showcase
Many of our Fall Festival attendees don’t know about our Spring Showcase, which is now in its 15th year, but HIFF has been diligently promoting emerging films from Asia, Europe, Australia, US, etc. in the month of April for quite some time now, as well. Think of the Spring Showcase as a mini-festival with a little over 35 films in total, but one that still highlights a large number of Korean films to satisfy the appetite of our Korean Cinema/K-Drama/K-POP fans (staff included!). For this Spring Showcase, we’ve invited eight brilliant films from South Korea and I hope you will simply be amazed at the diversity of titles. Prepare to indulge in family melodramas, comedies, mystery/thrillers and RomComs for the duration of the seven-day festival and expect great things to come for Korean films at both the HIFF Spring Showcase and Fall Festivals! And here are my TOP 4 favorite Korean films at this Spring Showcase.
<Court & Fact-Based Films>
Starring Korea’s top actor Song Kang-ho, THE ATTORNEY was a major box office hit early this year, invoking the dark memories of the post-war military dictatorship in South Korea during the early 1980s. The film is based on true events and the main character Song Woo-seo, played by Song Kang-ho, is also inspired by South Korea’s former president Roh Moo-hyun. After becoming the most successful lawyer in Busan, Song visits the owner of a small restaurant, where he had eaten when he was a poor college student, to pay for the meals he had been given for free at that time. While building reputation as a tax lawyer in the city, Song finds out about the arrest of Jinwoo–the son of the small restaurant owner–and that a group of college students had been falsely accused of promoting communist ideologies through book clubs that were in fact legitimate study sessions. In Korean cinema history, there are a number of courtroom dramas (UNBOWED 2011; THE CLIENT 2011) but Director Yang Woo-seok’s debut feature THE ATTORNEY is an impressive courtroom film that has a combination of heart-warming drama, comedy, and Korea’s contemporary history. As part of Cinema Hawaii Monday Film Series, HIFF is thrilled to present this film in partnership with Hawaii Theatre Center.
Currently known as a controversial film and a surprise hit in the Korean Box Office, ANOTHER FAMILY is also a film based on the true story about Hwang Yoo-mi, who died of Leukemia after working at Samsung Semiconductor factory. The film fictionalized the names of the characters and the company, but depicts a father’s long journey of fighting against a giant corporation for his young daughter. Similar to THE ATTORNEY, this film is a courtroom drama that will make your eyes water. The film had its World Premiere at 2013 BIFF with a huge success; however, it underwent many difficulties with expanding its domestic distribution because of the pressure from corporations that have close relationships with multiplexes in Korea. HIFF is proud to present it to our Hawaii audience; don’t miss this beautiful film!
This hilarious airplane comedy drama is something that you do not want to miss at this Spring Showcase. FASTEN YOUR SEATBELT is one of my favorite films in the Spring line-up, and one reason is that it’s not like a typical K-Drama comedy. Currently the “IT GUY” in South Korea, actor Ha Jung-woo is surprisingly the writer and director of this film, and the film recently won the emerging talent award in Osaka Asian Film Festival. Based on a true event that happened to Korean actor Ryoo Seung-bum, FASTEN YOUR SEATBELT delivers a witty and odd drama and definitely proves Ha Jung-woo’s promising talent in filmmaking.
There are many things that couples need to think about before their big day. And sometimes, you have a sudden impulse of wanting to change everything you had planned. An omnibus romantic comedy drama MARRIAGE BLUE tells heart-warming and laughable stories about four different couples overcoming changes and conflicts before their wedding day. Directed by a female director Hong Ji-young, who visited HIFF in 2012 for HORROR STORIES, MARRIAGE BLUE is a realistic representation of pre-wedding relationship issues and self-doubts. The casting of this film is simply amazing; the versatile actor Kim Kang-woo, the beautiful rising stars Ko Jun-hee and Lee Yeon-hee, the K-POP star TaecYeon and many others create an impressive ensemble. If you are planning for a date movie night, this film is the perfect choice!