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Film fest showcases joy of cinema

Movies can mean a lot of things. They can be made, studied, critiqued and simply watched. They can give multiples of meanings and hardships, as well as aspirations and enormous wealth.

The 6th Cinematheque Friends Film Festival, however, simply focuses on the joy of cinema this year.

Starting on Jan. 18 at Seoul Art Cinema in central Seoul, the one of a kind festival showcases a total of 44 Korean and foreign films, offering opportunities for movie directors and film critics to interact with viewers.

Among the featured films, 14 pieces were personally chosen by 14 acclaimed movie directors and critics, including Bong Joon-ho, Lee Joon-ik, Ryu Seung-wan and Jeong Seong-il.

The renowned figures will attend the showings of the films they chose, and talk with the audience about their selection.

Movie director Lee Joon-ik, who just released his highly anticipated new film, “Pyongyang Castle,” chose “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975), a British film that inspired him while making his own war comedy, “Once Upon a Time in a Battlefield” back in 2003. 
Movie director Lee Joon-ik speaks at a press conference promoting the 6th Cinematheque Friends Film Festival in Seoul, Wednesday. (Yonhap News)
Movie director Lee Joon-ik speaks at a press conference promoting the 6th Cinematheque Friends Film Festival in Seoul, Wednesday. (Yonhap News)

Lee said Cinematheque ― a film association with small cinemas that screens classic and art-house films ― is like his virtual hometown, a place where he can always go back to whenever he is in need of support or inspirations.

“Every animal has a hometown,” he told reporters in Seoul on Wednesday.

“And whether we remember or not, no one’s alone where they grew up. For me, my artistic, cinematic hometown is Cinematheque and I’d like to meet my old friends who used to share my artistic dreams and passion at this film festival.”

Movie director Kim Tae-yong, well known for his 2006 film “Family Ties,” chose “Suzhou River” (2003), a Chinese film of an “ardent love story.”

“I came to like films as I watched videos with the old VCR in my small room,” Kim said.

“My best way of choosing what movies to watch was to listen to my friends’ recommendations and find out why they like the particular movies. Through this festival I want people to experience the joy of watching movies with others. It can be less lonely.”

Another film director Lee Hae-young, who chose “Evil Dead” (1981), an American horror film, said as a director he often forgets the joy of being an audience member.

“The only way to watch ‘Evil Dead’ in the 1980s was to rent an illegal video,” he said. “I wanted to see what it is like to watch that film on a big screen. I chose the film strictly from a viewer’s perspective, not one of a director.”

The Korean Association of Cinematheques underwent a major financial crisis last year, as the government cut its funding by 50 percent.

“It was a difficult year,” said Kim Seong-wook, programmer of the association. “A lot of movie directors, actors and actresses helped us throughout. We are trying to regain the funding in 2011.”

The festival ends on Feb. 27. For more information, call (02) 741-9782.

By Claire Lee (
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Korea Herald daum