The film festival, one of the biggest events for local independent cinema, kicked off in the aftermath of the recent ferry disaster that has gripped the nation. As most earlier events in the entertainment industry were canceled to pay tribute to the victims, the opening ceremony of JIFF was held in a rather humble fashion on Thursday, without its annual red carpet event and reception.
The festival opened with “Mad Sad Bad,” an ambitious omnibus film dealing with relatively unconventional themes, including a senseless murder, a romance between a zombie and a human, and a child’s relationship with her autistic younger brother. The film is also a meaningful achievement for the local film industry, as the directors sought to use 3-D technology to create a drama rather than a Hollywood-style action film.
“I found myself empathizing more with 2-D films than 3-D films (before making this film),” said Kim Tae-young, who directed “Picnic,” one of the three parts of “Mad Sad Bad.”
|(From top) Scenes from “Picnic,” “Ghost” and “I Saw You,” which are part of the 2014 JIFF’s opening film “Mad Sad Bad” (JIFF)|
“But working on this film made me realize different things. I thought maybe this 3-D technology could allow the audience to really feel the characters at a closer distance, and empathize with the things that are going through (their minds).”
“Picnic” depicts an impish child (played by child actress Kim Soo-an) who takes her younger autistic brother to a Buddhist temple so she can leave him there. She makes the decision in anger after being frustrated about not getting enough attention from her single mother, who is fully occupied with her work and her autistic son. The film offers the young, likable character’s childlike fantasy in 3-D, which ultimately immerses viewers in the experience.
Kim said she wanted to focus on child actress Kim, who delivers a natural, memorable performance as the young sister. “She is a highly intelligent actress and I wanted to capture those qualities of hers,” he said.
Ryu’s “Ghost” is based on a real-life murder case that took place in Seoul’s Sinchon university district in 2012, where three young people, including a high school student, together killed a university student at a public park. The victim was stabbed more than 40 times, and it was later revealed that the attackers met one another in cyberspace.
Actors Lee David (“Poetry,” “The Terror Live”) and Park Jung-min (“Bleak Night”) give gripping performances as the plotters of the senseless murder; Park, in particular, fills the screen with explosive energy and madness toward the end.
“When I first learned about the 2012 case, I just didn’t understand how such a thing could actually happen,” Ryu said. “This film started with my curiosity. I talked with the reporters who wrote about the case, as well as the police officers who were in charge of the case. But I never talked with the attackers. This film also reflects my take on today’s social networking world and how people communicate with each other.”
Han’s “I Saw You” is a zombie film set in the future, starring Nam Gyu-ri and Park Ki-woong. It touches on the themes of class struggle and human dignity. The zombies of the film live miserably as laborers, as they are forced by the ruling humans to take medicines that “control” their zombiness. One of the side effects of the pills is memory loss. “It is a zombie film, but in the end it turns out to be a film about love and memories,” Han said.
This year’s JIFF runs until May 10, featuring 181 films from 44 countries, including 40 world premieres.
By Claire Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)