K-Focus: Producer Lee Jun-dong
With only eight films over twelve years under his belt Lee Joon-dong has shown an apt eye for producing beautiful and insightful films. The younger brother of festival darling, Lee Chang-dong, began his career as a production manager on his brother’s third directorial feature, Oasis in 2002. Since then the producer has established production company Now Films, specialising in creating low to mid-budgeted art films. With this criteria in mind Lee Joon-dong has helped to bring to the silver screen award winning films such as A Brand New Life, Never Forever and My Mother, The Mermaid.
The producer had his biggest success in 2010 with his brother drawing great recognition for the outstanding Poetry. The film centres on an elderly, burden woman looking for the ‘poetry’ in life in the face of adversity and won a string of awards including Best Screenplay at Cannes, the Regard D’Or and Jury prize at Fribourg Film Festival to name but a few. Recently the producer has enticed back to cinema the director of cult hit Save the Green Planet, Jang Joon-hwan with the unusual but thrilling Hwayi: A Monster Boy. A more big budget affair than Lee Joon-dong’s regular films, Hwayi contains all the imaginative style and storytelling that made the director’s debut feature such a hit. As well as Hwayi the festival will also be screening producer Lee Joon-dong’s latest film and debut feature from the promising July Jung with, A Girl At My Door starring Bae Doo-na and Kim Sae-ron.
A fighter for independent films, Lee Joon-dong has spent a career proving it is possible to create low budget, engaging and success movies and in the process helped bring some of Korea’s best contemporary films to our screens.
Director: Jang Joon-hwan
Cast: Kim Yun-seok, Yeo Jin-goo, Cho Jin-woong, Park Hyun-sung, Kim Sung-kyun, Park Hae-joon
Cert TBC, 126mins, 2018
Fantasia Int. Film Festival 2014
Hwayi is a boy who lives on small farm in a small village. From the outside Hwayi might seem like every other teenager but he is not. Unlike most families Hwayi has been raised by five fathers who are infamous criminals. There is the cold-hearted leader; Suk-tae, the stuttering Ki-tae, the thinker Jin-sun, the action man Dong-beom and the firearms expert Beom-soo. Each bring their own specialities to the table and Hwayi is taught all of these. One day the group accepts a contract to kill a man named Lim and his wife. The group of assassins feel as if something is not right about this assignment but Suk-tae is adamant to fulfil the contract and to bring Hwayi on the mission. Nervous Hwayi enters the victims house and is forced to kill his target, but he discovers a photography of a boy that looks incredibly familiar. This revelation will change everything forever.
“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become 2014 a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” These words from Friedrich Nietzsche gives the audience a complete understanding of what to expect of Hwayi. This action and emotionally packed film sees the long awaited return of filmmaker Jang Joon-hwan. The director debuted with the cult and critically loved film Save the Green Planet in 2003 yet disappeared, but thankfully this darkly imaginative filmmaker has returned with another off-kilter, unusual and stirring action film.
Director: Lee Chang-dong
Cast: Yoon Jeong-hee, Lee Da-wit, Kim Hee-ra, An Nae-sang
Cert 15, 135mins, 2018
Cannes Int. Film Festival 2014
Best Actress: Yun Jung-hee
LA Film Critics Association 2014
Mi-ja lives along the Han River with her teenage grandson in a small suburban city. She is a dandy old lady who likes to dress up in flower-decorated hats and fashionable outfits, but has an unpredictable attitude and inquisi- tive mind. On a whim Mi-ja enrols into a poetry class in the neighbourhood cultural centre and is challenged to write a poem for the first time. Believing that there is nothing in her life to inspire her wish to write poems, she sets out on a quest for poetic inspiration. Mi-ja becomes an observer of the everyday, the beauty in the things that everyone takes for granted. With this, Mi-ja is delightfully surprised that she has a newfound excitement over discovering sights and experiences as if for the first time. But some unexpected news brings her crashing down to a the harsh reality she had escaped. Mi-ja has to confront the idea that perhaps life is not as beautiful as she had thought.
Filmmaker Lee Chang-dong has written and directed a slew of award winning films including, Green Fish, Oasis, Secret Sunshine and Peppermint Candy. A number of these films have focused on the incredible performances of its female leads with Moon So-ri and Jeon Do-yeon winning accolades around the world. Poetry is no different with a subtle yet stirring performance from actress Yun Jung-hee as the aspiring poet battling against a stark reality.