Sunday, April 29, 2007

Jeonju Film Festival

I just spent a couple of days down at the Jeonju International Film Festival (which runs until May 4, so you still have time to check it out, if you are in the area).

The key "gimmick" JIFF offers each year is a digital triptych film they produce. The give three directors from around the world some funding to make any kind of digital short film, then the three are shown together. This year, for the first time, instead of using Asian filmmakers, JIFF organizers approached three European directors -- Eugene Green, Harun Farocki and Pedro Costa.

Farocki made RESPITE, a silent documentary using real 16mm footage from the Westerbork transit camp, where 100,000 people passed on their way to Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen.

Costa made THE RABBIT HUNTERS, about a shanty town on the outskirts of Lisbon. It was the most narrative of the three, following a copule of old guys as they sniff snuff and try to get by.

Eugene Green made CORRESPONDENCES, about a young man and woman emailing after meeting at a party. This was more of a poem, with the two characters' thought juxtaposed by nicely composed, artsy shots of them sitting around their apartments. The French people I was sitting beside were not much impressed by their attempts at poetry or philosophy or whatever.

Overall, most people seemed to think this year's short films were a little weaker than usual. But I have only seen a few of the previous years' films, so it is hard for me to say.

Although all three digital shorts were European this year, Korean filmmakers still got some juice, as JIFF introduced a second triptych this year. Called Short! Short! Short!, this uses only up-and-coming Korean directors. But I did not get a chance to see that film. Hopefully it will be shown in Seoul some time soon.

I also saw Mamoru Oshii's latest, TACHIGUI: THE AMAZING LIVES OF THE FAST FOOD GRIFTERS, which was pretty painful, although somewhat interesting stylistically. Oshii used a style somewhat like the realism/animation hybrid of AVALON, but made it a lot more cartoony. And with a lot of dead spots, where nothing happened as the narrator went on and on and on and on. Like GHOST IN THE SHELL 2, but much worse.

Outside of the movies, there were concerts at night. I saw the very weird Japanese band YMCK, which has music that sounds like an old Atari video game (kind of like this). Not the kind of music I would like to listen to for hours on end, but weird enough that they were pretty amusing. The crowd (mostly Korean high school and college kids) seemed to quite like them.

Anyhow, even if you could not make it to Jeonju, many of the JIFF films will be playing in Seoul soon, particuarly at the Cinematheque. In fact, there will a Harun Farocki special from Tuesday to Sunday.


In unrelated news, I just checked out Danny Boyle's science fiction movie SUNSHINE. And the film is real mess. At times an amazing mess, but definitely a mess. Why does it seem like almost every science fiction movie these days turns into a serial killing horror film? One character in SUNSHINE actually jokes about that cliche, and then the movie falls right into the same trap. It is like the filmmakers did not trust that audiences would find a serious science-fiction story to be interesting enough, so grafted on a totally unnecessary additional story arch. Very disappointing.

Actually, it felt like the studio had really mucked around with the movie, cutting out key information and turning the movie into a real muddle. But who knows, maybe it was just Boyle's mess. I would say it is almost worth seeing, just for the visuals and music...

No comments: