BIFF Selection

End of Winter

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Film info

2014. Directed by Kim Dae-hwan , starring Moon Chang-gil, Lee Young-Ian, Kim Min-hyuk, Lee Sang-hee, Heo Je-won , 99 mins.

Cheorwon, South Korea, is the place of a thorny family drama. The location is particularly apt for a long weekend of domestic recriminations; it is where military manoeuvres provide background aural accompaniment – from jet planes sonic booming overhead to ordnance tests shattering the silence. Entertainment comes when verbal skirmishes interrupt the rare fragile respites. Passive aggressive loggerheads and denial are of the watch-through-your-fingers variety. The reunion centres around the retirement of the patriarch, Kim Sung-keun (Moon Chang-gil), who, over dinner, drops a narrative bombshell that sets the film on its course. No relief is given, as the Kims are trapped in a tiny apartment by heavy snowfall. Excruciatingly funny and awkward moments emanate from the three days and two nights we spend together.

By Hemanth Kissoon

Socialphobia

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Film info

2014. Directed by Hong Seok-jae , starring Byun Yohan, Lee Ju-seung, Ha Yoon-kyung, Ryu Jun-yeol , 100 mins.

When a soldier (Oh Hee-joon) tragically commits suicide, news spreads like wildfire online in Korea, generating not only messages of condolence but also repugnant comments from a young woman, (Ha Yoon-kyung), with a seeming axe to grind. In spite of an outcry against her statements, the woman continues her vitriolic outbursts and before long she is identified and her address made public on social media. Deciding to take the woman to task in person, on film for all to see, several deeply disgruntled individuals attend her home but on entering the house they find her dead, hanging from the ceiling. Two of the men, police-tech students Ji-woong (Byun Yohan) and Yong-min (Lee Ju-seong) suspect foul play and begin an investigation into her death. However, even they are not prepared for the shockingly disturbing discoveries they are about to unearth. Citing the increasing issues of suicide and cyberbullying, is a surprising yet utterly topical critique of society.

By Paul Quinn

Set Me Free

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Film info

2014. Directed by Kim Tae-yong , starring Choi Woo-shik, Kim Su-hyun, Kang Sin-cheol, Shin Jae-ha, Park Joo-hee, Jang Yoo-sang , 108 mins.

Yeongjae (Choi Woo-shik) is a boy of high school age who resides at ‘Isaac’s Home’, a family-like institution for children whose parents are financially or otherwise unable to care for them. On the surface, Yeongjae is a model child, always obedient and determined to join the seminary to become a priest. However, actually this young man is far more self-serving and regularly steals shoes etc. from the home’s storage unit to sell at school. When the thefts are uncovered, Yeongjae fears his days at the home are numbered and tries all the harder to ingratiate himself with his carers. However, the more desperate Yeongjae’s actions become the more his plans and life unravel and with no-one left to blame, his fear, despair and frustration move ever closer to an explosion of fury. An in-depth study of one young boy’s desperate battle for security, deftly speaks of fear and loneliness brought on by social adversity.

By Paul Quinn

Wild Flowers

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Film info

2014. Directed by Park Suk-young , starring Cho Soo-hyang, Jeong Ha-dam, Kwon Eun-soo, Paul Lee, Kang Bong-sung , 114 mins.

Running away from an unseen situation, teenagers Soo-hyang (Cho Soo-hyang) and Eun-soo (Kwon Eun-soo) find another young girl, Ha-dam (Jeong Ha-dam), being beaten up by a man in a rubble strewn area of the city. Coming to her aid by attacking the man with fists, feet and indeed bricks, they rescue the frightened girl and all three make a frantic, hurried escape. However, before these ‘wild flowers’ (runaway girls) can even begin to catch their breath and begin to get to know each other, they are kidnapped by a surly, aggressive man known only as ‘Uncle’ (Oh Chang-kyeong) and locked in a room. Quickly realising that they are to be forced into prostitution, Soo-hyang takes the lead in trying to secure their freedom. But all too soon, personal needs, lies, betrayal and the pressures of homelessness threaten to stretch the new friendship of these young wild flowers to utter breaking point. A nuanced story with outstanding performances from the female leads makes an unmissable cinematic experience.

By Paul Quinn

We Will Be Ok

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Film info

2014. Directed by Baek Jae-ho , starring Kim Sang-seok, Lee hwa , 102 mins.

Sang-seok (Kim Sang-seok) is an actor whose career has stalled before it has even begun. He has never been in a major film production, he is completely unknown and though he wishes he could take part in the Busan International Film Festival his hopes are no more that pipe dreams. In an effort to help his situation, Sang-seok’s friends Jae-ho and Tae-hee suggest making a film with him as the star. However, when the movie is cancelled, utterly dejected Sang-seok heads to a karaoke bar to drown his sorrows. There he meets a beautiful woman, Hwa (Lee Hwa), and falling instantly for her all the pain of the failed film project is overtaken by thoughts of her. Baek Jae-ho’s nuanced first directorial feature has already been invited to a number of Korean film festivals, including BIFF.

By Paul Quinn

The Liar

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Film info

2014. Directed by Kim Dong-myung , starring Kim Kkobbi, Chun Sin-hwan , 95 mins.

Ah-young (Kim Kkobbi, who largely became known to UK audiences for her memorable performance in Yang Ik-june’s hard hitting drama (2008)) is a dermatology clinic assistant who outwardly appears to be a happy, young woman of means. However, the truth of her situation is far removed from the boastful stories she endlessly tells. She steals, borrows and increasingly lies to hide the fact that her family is broken and destitute and her sister a chronic alcoholic. As Ah-young’s web of deceit becomes ever more intricate and convoluted, cracks in her stories begin to appear and as she loses respect from the very people she has been trying to impress, her lies, and life, start to fall apart.

By Paul Quinn