The 13th Annual New York Korean Film Festival showcases the nation's cinema doing what it does best: the crime thriller, the romantic fantasy, and feverish erotica. The peninsula’s filmmakers bend genre cinema to a uniquely Korean pulse and purpose, making the modestly sized country's national film industry arguably the most vibrant in East Asia. The thrilling complications of love and crime steal the show in this year's line up, as partnerships go south and fickle passions lead to betrayal. Resistance fighters navigate the intrigue of colonial-era Korea, love affairs are smothered as quickly as they are kindled, and hardboiled cops dig at the ugly truth in a collection of massive blockbusters and critical favorites from the international festival circuit, with five New York premieres.
The festival features an exceptional group of guest speakers, including star director Ryoo Seung-wan and producers Kang Hye-jung and Park Jung (Veteran); directors Shin Suwon (Madonna), Lee Do-yun (Confession), Kang Hyo-jin (Wonderful Nightmare), Oh Seung-uk (The Shameless), and Hong Won-chan (Office); and actress Koh Ah-sung.
Presented in collaboration with The Korea Society and Subway Cinema Major support provided by the Korea Foundation
With director Kang Hyo-jin in person New York Premiere
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2015 | 7 PM
Dir. Kang Hyo-jin. 2015, 125 mins. DCP. With Uhm Jung-hwa, Song Seung-heon, Seo Shin-Ae. Heaven makes a clerical error, so ambitious lawyer Yeon-woo (played by superstar Uhm Jung-hwa) returns to Earth to find herself married to a salaryman and mother to a rebellious teenager and know-it-all six-year-old. A sharp, hilarious satire about the shift in gender roles in contemporary Korean society that struck a deep chord with local audiences.
Director Kang Hyo-jin’s independent feature, Kill’em with Bare Hands (2004), won the audience award at the Seoul Independent Film Festival. His films include Dirty Blood (2012), Twilight Gangsters (2010), and Punch Lady (2007).
Dir. Ryoo Seung-wan. 2015, 123 mins. DCP. With Hwang Jung-min, Yoo Ah-in, Yoo Hae-jin. In this instant action/comedy classic—a massive theatrical hit earlier this summer—hardboiled detective Seo Do-cheol (top actor Hwang Jung-min can throw—and take—a punch) and his misfit team defend the powerless against the vicious scion of a prominent family (played with villainous delight by heartthrob Yoo Ah-in, in a widely acclaimed performance).
Ryoo Seung-wan was born in Onyang, South Korea. His films include The Berlin File (2013), The Unjust (2010), Dachimawa Lee (2008), The City of Violence (2006), Crying Fist (2005), Arahan (2004), No Blood No Tears (2002), and Die Bad (2000). He won “Best Director” at the Blue Dragon Film Awards in 2011.
Dir. Baik (Baek Jong-yeol), 2015, 127 mins. B.R. With Han Hyo-joo, Park Seo-jun, Mun Suk, Lee Dong-hwi, Lee Mi-do. Since his 18th birthday, Woo-jin wakes up each morning as a different person in a new body. Sometimes he’s old, sometimes he’s young, sometimes he’s not Korean…or even a man. But inside, he remains the same down-to-earth, honest cabinet maker devoted to his craft. And each day he fights to connect with the woman he loves (Han Hyo-joo, in a luminous, standout performance). Beneath the slick romantic fantasy and the gorgeous cinematography, the film asks real questions about identity and true love.
“Blessed with a MLB roster’s worth of veteran character players (Kim Sang-ho, Kim Min-jae, Jo Dal-hwan), and buzzy young stars”—Elizabeth Kerr, The Hollywood Reporter
Dir. Shin Su-won. 2015, 121 mins. DCP. With Seo Young-hee, Kwon So-hyun, Kim Young-min.
After her festival hit Pluto (2012), a critically acclaimed high-school drama about bullying and murder which won a Special Mention at the 2013 Berlinale, director Shin Su-won delivers a shocking, noir-tinged tale of privilege and poverty: a nurse's aide uncovers and tries to prevent the horrific use of a brain dead pregnant street-walker for a heart transplant to a rich patient.
Director Shin Su-Won was a middle school teacher before she began a directing career. Her short, Circle Line, won the Canal+ Prize for Best Short Film at Cannes 2012, and her debut feature, Passerby #3 (2010), won awards at the Tokyo International Film Festival and Jeonju International Film Festival. Her films include Modern Family (2012) and Pluto (2013).
Dir. Choi Dong-hoon. 2015, 140 mins. B.R. With Jeon Ji-hyun, Lee Jung-hae, Ha Jung-woo. Choi Dong-hoon's follow-up to his 2012 hit The Thieves was Korea’s biggest box office hit of the year. Drawing inspiration from 1980s Hong Kong action comedies and South Korea's little-known 1960s Manchurian Westerns, Assassination follows the journey of three resistance fighters as their mission takes them to the Manchurian countryside, pre-war Shanghai, and Japanese-occupied Seoul to assassinate an evil Japanese governor and his Korean acolyte. Boasting an all-star cast led by screen-goddess Jeon Ji-hyun and superstar Lee Jung-jae, Assassination is “a sensationally entertaining mash-up of historical drama, Dirty Dozen style shoot-‘em-up, spaghetti Western-flavored flamboyance, and extended action set pieces that suggest a dream-team collaboration of Sergio Leone, John Woo and Steven Spielberg” according to Variety’s Joe Leydon.
Dir. Lee Do-yun. 2014, 114 mins. DCP. With Ji Sung, Ju Ji-hoon. Since a tragic mountain incident in high school, Min-soo (Lee Kwang-soo), Hyun-tae (Ji Sung) and In-chul (Ju Ji-hoon) have remained best friends through thick and thin. But when two of them agree to burn down an illegal gambling hall for the insurance payout, the spilt blood of loved ones unearths the bitter ghosts of a dark past. Soon, the group of childhood friends turn on each other in the bleakest of fallouts. Lee Do-yun’s debut feature has been compared with the slow-burning noir of Sidney Lumet’s final film, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.
“The film’s stupendous execution and the compelling characters successfully drive the film forward.” -Jason Bechervaise, Screen International
Lee Do-yun was born in South Korea. He directed the short films We. Trippers and Neighbor. Confession, his first feature, had its international premiere in Toronto last year.
Dir. Oh Seung-uk. 118 mins. DCP. With Jeon Do-yeon, Kim Nam-gil, Park Sung-Woong. In Oh Seung-uk’s highly anticipated return to the director’s chair since his debut masterpiece Kilimanjaro in 2000, Cannes award-winning actress Jeon Do-yeon plays a bar hostess in love with a suspected murderer. Kim Nam-gil (The Pirates) is outstanding as a detective who plays a game of seduction with a dangerous woman. Selected for the Un Certain Regard program at the Cannes Film Festival, The Shameless is an unforgettably stylish noir.
“A mellow pleasure to be slowly savored, this polished work should be welcomed at festivals” — Maggie Lee, Variety
Oh Seung-uk (b.1963) began his career as an assistant director of Lee Chang-dong, co-writing his debut feature Green Fish. In the late '90s, he co-wrote the landmark romance Christmas in August and Park Kwang-su's ambitious historical drama The Uprising. Oh made his debut as a director with the crime thriller Killimanjaro in 2000. The Shameless is his long-awaited second feature.
Dir. Bong Man-Dae. 2015, 107 mins. DCP. With Yoo Ha-joon, Han Je-in, Kang Yong-gyoo.
Maladjusted screenwriter Jeong-min (Yoo Ha-joon) travels to the countryside to rethink his life and concentrate on his career. But instead of working on his screenwriting, he finds transgressive distraction in the person of temptress Yumi (Han Je-in). The frontier between reality and fantasy blurs as Jeong-min’s mind and body are engulfed in a fatal attraction to the innocent-faced but dangerous Lolita, leading him to increasingly poor life decisions. A standout entry in the filmography of softcore erotic meister “Playboy” Bong Man-Dae.