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Are 90-second movies capturing subway audience?

Short film “Rewild” by Ernest Zacharevic and Nicholas Chin is shown at Sadang Station on Monday as part of SMIFF. (Lim Jang-won / The Korea Herald)
Short film “Rewild” by Ernest Zacharevic and Nicholas Chin is shown at Sadang Station on Monday as part of SMIFF. (Lim Jang-won / The Korea Herald)

People riding subways will want to keep a close eye on the destination information screens on subway trains and at stations for the next few weeks: The Seoul Metro International Subway Film Festival kicked off Monday, bringing short films to commuters through Sept. 18.

The official slogan for this year’s festival, now in its 11th year, is “90 seconds, enjoy the subway!”

“I hope many people using the subways can enjoy arts and culture by watching the super-short films,” said Seoul Metro media director Jung Sun-in.

The 25 international films, 15 domestic films and 15 special films chosen by the judges of SMIFF offer both entertainment and stir the emotions of those traveling on Seoul Subway Lines 1 to 8. Yeongdeungpo CGV will also screen the films on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, with screens at Sadang Station and Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station showing the films throughout the festival period.

The movies were selected by five judges from among 1,075 works from 58 countries, setting a new record for submissions to the festival.

The films were required to be under 90 seconds long, excluding the credit roll, and to be comprehensible without audio.

The domestic movies, under the theme “Seoul subway,” featured several pieces that showed how the subways have changed since the spread of COVID-19.

The international clips had no restriction on the topic. There are funny animations as well as pieces that compel people to take time for reflection in the midst of their busy lives.

The top five pieces will be decided by the results of online voting on the SMIFF webpage (www.smiff.kr), which momentarily went down Monday morning due to the high volume of traffic. Winners, who will take home a combined 13 million won ($10,900) in prize money, will be announced through an online awards ceremony on Sept. 18. All films participating in the festival can be seen on the webpage.

SMIFF partnered with Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona this year, and the top winning pieces will be featured in Barcelona public transportation in Spain as well.

The first day of the film festival was not without its hitches. At Sadang Station, one of the two places where films can be seen at any time during the festival period via a specially installed monitor, the screen remained black Monday morning. It was only when festival organizers were alerted by a phone call that they realized the screen had not been plugged in.

In addition, it may not be possible for the subway riders to catch a film during their rides, especially if their trips are brief. While the films have been added to the destination information screen program cycle, the many advertisements and safety instructions in the cycle means the films are shown infrequently.

By Lim Jang-won (ljw@heraldcorp.com)
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