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07/31/2017 Special > Special

Title

Korean Films Drawing Attention from the World

Through Cannes 2017

김소연

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A Korean historical movie on the May 18 Democratic Uprising ‘A Taxi Driver (2017)’ has been selected as a closing movie at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal, Quebec. It was the very first Korean movie to close the festival. As more and more movies from Korea are invited to numerous international film festivals such as Fantasia, Cannes and Berlin International, attention from the world to Korean films are also growing year by year. Some movie journalists call 2017 as one of the most significant years in the Korean film history.
 
The poster for the movie 'Okja (2017)'. Released in June 28th, it is available on Netflix and small theaters.

 
Standing ovation in Cannes

Okja’ is a name of Director Bong Joon-ho’s most recent film but also a name of a super pig in the movie, which refers to a genetically modified species invented to feed millions with the least environmental impact. Another main character Mija is a farmer girl who is Okja’s best friend and family. She fights for Okja against people who try to take it. The movie tries to deliver the message of veganism and the cruelty within a meat diet. Bong revealed that he also turned vegan through numerous interviews.

Okja’ was spotlighted for various reasons. To begin with, it was produced by the world-wide video streaming service Netflix, with famous casts such as Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, and Lily Colins. It’s unprecedented way of distribution also brought attention to the film itself. Netflix’s decision to release it online only in most markets induced heated debates across the world. This is why Korean audiences cannot watch 'Okja' in major multiplexes in Korea such as CGV, Megabox and Lotte Cinema. Despite all the stories behind, the film was officially selected in Cannes and also got an unexpected standing ovation that lasted for four minutes in its premiere.


Berlin best actress winning film also in Cannes
From the left, actress Kim Min-hee and director
Hong Sang-soo. Kim is holding her Silver Bear trophy
from Berlin International Film Festival. 
 

Actress Kim Min-hee also received attention from world-wide by winning the best actress award at Berlin International Film Festival, for 'On the Beach at Night Alone (2017)'. Directed by Hong Sang-soo, two other movies of theirs also made it to the Cannes this year. 'The Day After (2017)' in competition, and 'Claire’s Camera (2017)' in special screening segment. This is the filmmaker’s fourth time competing in Cannes. The Silver Bear winner actress Kim Min-hee is on both of the movies, too. Unlike the speculation of many Korean press expecting one, the films did not win any awards. However, it definitely was a step forward to shed the light on Korean films and film workers behind the scene.
 
Other than the movies made by renowned directors, movies such as 'Villainess (2017)' by Jung Byung-Gil and 'The Merciless (2017)' by Byun Sung-hyun also received invitations from the Cannes, both in the midnight screening area. This made two out of three cinemas in the area to be Korean. This opens many doors for Korean film industry to explore various themes with the support of international funds, even for people who are relatively new to the industry.


For foreigners in Korea

Demand for English, Chinese and Japanese subtitled Korean films has been increasing due to such international interests. Thanks to Seoul city and CJ’s ‘English Subtitles on Korean Movies Business’ in 2010, many foreigners can still enjoy some films without having to find illegal routes. Also, there are about a dozen of Korean movies including the famous “Okja” on Netflix, of course with subtitles for foreigners.
 

Kim So-yun        dash070@hanyang.ac.kr
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