So many countries around the world could stake a claim for producing the best films outside of the US (or I suppose even including America). Looking aware from Blighty’s own shores, there is of course the importance of German filmmakers in the early days of cinema, the frequent cultural revolutions France has provided, the influence and poetic realism of the Italians, the pace setting of the Japanese, the pure economic business power of India’s industry; and, over the past 20 years or more in particular, there has been South Korea quietly going about its business its own way.
From gangster epics such as New World to revenge thrillers like The Villainess and all the social, political and cultural commentaries in between, the country’s output has been exceptional – at least, those that have reached the West has been largely exceptional, that is. So much so that there is an entire film festival dedicated purely to Korean films right here in the UK.
Whether indie movies are your bag, or if you prefer cinematic epics, there’s always something to draw your attention in the varied selections on offer. But right now, the London Korean Film Festival 2018 (LKFF) is presenting a very special series of films and events showcasing exemplary pieces of independent documentary filmmaking from 11th-19th August.
Based around themes of social justice and political resistance, the documentary programme will see acclaimed directors Kim Dong Won and Song Yun-hyeok present their films across two weekends, joined by noted critic Nam In Young for a selection of free screenings, panel discussions, and in-depth conversations.
The work of political filmmaking collectives gained recognition globally in the 60s, with Japan’s Ogawa Shinsuke and his ‘Ogawa Pro’ group being a notable example. Britain had its own collectives organised around common political causes too. Amongst others, feminist film groups formed across the country in the 70s and 80s, with the Greenham Commons all-women anti-nuclear project garnering particular recognition.
This culture emerged in South Korea in the late 1980s with a few film collectives whose aims were to document and resist social injustice, of which Kim Dong Won and his P.U.R.N. Production collective are exemplary. Kim became a major figure in the scene, inspiring his fellow documentary filmmakers thanks to the intimacy of his relationship with his subjects, as well as his approach to recording them.
The country has continued to produce an impressive volume of politically-driven documentaries each year, films that reflect and engage with the rapid social change and political upheaval of the past few decades.
Kim Dong Won will present a selection of his works from the past four decades along with films by two young filmmakers actively involved in documentary film collectives, Park Bae-il and Song Yun-hyeok.
All screenings and events are free to attend but booking is essential (although some screenings have sold out already) just book online at: http://koreanfilm.co.uk/site/the-2018-festival/documentary-fortnight