Last Saturday night marked the close of the Sydney run of the Korean Film Festival in Australia with Another Child, the directorial debut of veteran Korean actor Kim Yoon-Seok, who also stars in the film. The moving drama chronicles the families of two teenage girls, whose lives become irrevocably intertwined when the father of one begins an affair with the mother of the other. Another Child is just one of twelve Australian premieres and twenty-two feature films that have been showcased as part of 2019’s Korean Film Festival in Australia.
The Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of Korean Cinema. The festival is being held over three weeks in four different cities (Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane). While the Sydney and Canberra legs have now finished, the Brisbane and Melbourne strands are running now until the 8th and 12th respectively, and should not be missed.
KOFFIA seeks to highlight the best of 2019 Korean Cinema, and therefore showcases big name directors, and films that have already had critical acclaim or festival success elsewhere. The twenty-two feature films showcased come from mostly established directors working in a variety of genres “from blockbusters to indies, dramas to comedies”.
The festival opened with a bang with the Sydney premiere of A Resistance on the 22nd, the true story of a teenage girl who protested Japanese colonial occupation of Korea, which was followed by a Q&A with Director Joe Min-ho and Actors Ko Asung and Kim Ye-eun.
The best film of the festival was undoubtedly Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite, which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival this year, the first Korean film to do so, and the Best Film prize at this year’s Sydney Film Festival. Audiences packed the full theatre at Dendy Opera Quays for the much-anticipated matinee screening of Parasite, a tense, thrilling and darkly funny movie that explores class inequalities in modern day South Korea through the morally dubious relationship between two families: one rich, one poor. In addition to the normal programming, this year the Korean Film Festival, with the Sydney Film Festival, is co-running a retrospective of Palme d’Or winning director Bong Joon-ho’s filmography, in honour of Parasite’s critical success. The Parasite screening was preceded by a free forum at the Museum of Contemporary Art titled Korean Cinema: ‘Past, Present and Future’, which saw Australian film critics and academics coming together to reflect on the past, and predict the future, of Korean cinema.
Additional highlights included Underdog, a family-friendly tale about a dog who is forced to fend for himself after being separated from his family, one of the first animations the festival has programmed in years. As well as The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil which also premiered at Cannes Film Festival this year and is due to for an American remake produced by and starring Sylvester Stallone.
2019’s Korean Film Festival proved once again to be an unmissable event in the Sydney cultural calendar, highlighting the considerable filmmaking talent coming out of South Korea, across a wide range of genres and styles.
2019 KOFFIA screening dates and locations:
- Sydney:August 22 – 31 | Dendy Opera Quays
- Canberra:August 22 – 25 | Palace Electric Cinema
- Brisbane:September 5 – 8 | Elizabeth Picture Theatre
- Melbourne:September 5 – 12 | Capitol Theatre