Korean Wave

As we prepare to welcome back the Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) for its third year we catch up with Artistic Director Kieran Tully for a lesson in Korean cinema.

Christmas in August

Christmas in August

In the late ‘90s Korea emerged as a major player on the world’s cinema stage. From dark cult crime classics to restrained art house dramas, Korean directors pushed the medium to its limits and cleaned up at the major international film festivals. Korea had learnt how to successfully fight it out against Hollywood.

Today, this so called Korean wave continues to give Hollywood a run for its money. Last year’s top 10 earners at the Korean box office were an even split between Korean and American films, showing that local demand is strong and the industry continues to thrive.

There are some critics who have suggested that the wave is losing its momentum, but the films included in this year’s KOFFIA prove otherwise. Here’s a quick guide to identifying those classic Korean wave elements in the KOFFIA program:

Modern Classics: These are the films that spring to mind when people ask “What is the best Korean film of all time?”

Considered modern classics, Christmas in August, Spring Summer Autumn Winter and Spring and Oldboy, were all released in the prime of the Korean wave. All three films have proved popular with Sydney KOFFIA audiences, topping the festival audience choice polls.

Film Festival Favourites: Those films that stand out on the global stage

Look out for the award winning Korean Academy of Film Arts’ (KAFA) production Bleak Night, the brutal animation The King of Pigs and the Melbourne closing night film, The Day He Arrives, Hong Sang-soo’s black and white fantasy which screened in the 64th Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard.

Blockbusters: Those films that are beating Hollywood at their own game

This year’s KOFFIA will screen five of the top ten grossing Korean films of 2011, War of the Arrows, Silenced, The Frontline, The Client and Sunny.

Also screening is All About My Wife, the latest blockbuster direct from Korea and currently the third highest grossing film of the year.

The production of this film, a Korean remake of the Argentinean film Un novio para mi mujer (A Boyfriend for My Wife), mirrors the western trend of re-shooting foreign language films in a style more suited to the local market, proving that Korea is continuing to give Hollywood a run for its money.

There’s never been a better time to discover your connection with Korean cinema.

Kieran Tully, Festivals Manager & Artistic Director, KOFFIA

The 3rd Korean Film Festival screens at ACMI from Sat 8 Sep to Wed 12 Sep 2012.

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