OK.. this is just blatant publicity considering I’m heading the PR for the Korean Film Festival in Australia, but hear me out.
The 2nd official Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) is on in Sydney this coming August 24 – 29, and they have a pretty wicked selection of films on show. Catering to the tastes of horror junkies, action/thriller lovers, indie hipsters and even family-friendly types, KOFFIA is a festival experience that celebrates the breakout of Korean films in international spaces.
Before the 90s, the Korean film industry wasn’t making back any of its money. Relying on Hollywood imports and cheesy melodrama to get people into cinemas, Korea’s film industry was on the verge of simply closing up shop due to its serious lack of profitability. But once the political and economic climate of Korea began to change so did the nation’s films. Even with direct American competition in the country itself, Korean production companies proved that strong concepts and original, innovative and visionary direction could beat foreign competitors, offering the world something that was culturally striking and yet, uniquely familiar.
Korean cinema now stands at a very interesting point in its history. As the eyes of international film festivals, leading American production companies and regional importers (such as China, Japan, and Vietnam) look to the Korean film industry for inspiration (and ways to make money), it seems like global audiences can’t get enough of what this geographically small but remarkable country has to offer in terms of its dramatic art onscreen.
And while celebrating Korean cinema’s success is a large part of what KOFFIA is all about, I think this special event in Sydney is more interesting and exciting in relation to Korean cinema’s rising position. That is to say, I don’t think Korean cinema has seen enough widespread attention (especially in Australia) in order to claim a dominant position in the international landscape of filmmaking. It is still a growing industry, and despite the success it may have seen in the past decade, the nation’s filmmakers are pulling all sorts of moves (good and bad) to win over an international audience. For this reason, Korean cinema deserves to be seen, reflected upon and at the very least, given a chance.
The Australian film industry itself is continually looking for ways to tell exciting, culturally-specific and yet, widely appreciated stories. Australian filmmakers, film buffs and movie-goers are those who have an eye for originality, inspiration and the daring in film, as we ourselves live in a country full of diverse ideas and people.
I am really looking forward to KOFFIA, and seeing what people’s responses to the films are. Whether you love it, hate it, couldn’t understand it or just got weirded out, I sincerely believe it is the distinctly different, new and eye-opening (literally!) experience that should compel you to go to KOFFIA.