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A break from the blockbusters

Seoul Art Cinema to throw one of a kind summer movie event


For Seoulites staying in the city for the summer, movie theaters are often a good option to avoid the heat while being entertained.

Yet if you are not a huge blockbuster fan, or simply would like to try something different, Seoul Art Cinema’s “2011 Cine-Vancances Seoul” ― which kicks off on July 28 ― might give you what you wouldn’t normally experience in Seoul’s popular movie venues.

Located in central Seoul near Insa-dong, Seoul Art Cinema is the only non-profit cinematheque ― film archive with small venues that screens mostly classic and art-house films ― in Seoul. It screens some 500 films of different countries and receives over 60,000 visitors every year. 
The official poster of the 6th Cine-Vacances Seoul (The Korean Association of Cinematheques)
The official poster of the 6th Cine-Vacances Seoul (The Korean Association of Cinematheques)

And despite its financial difficulties due to the government’s 50 percent funding cut last year, the Korean Association of Cinematheques has worked hard to throw its annual summer event which celebrates its sixth year anniversary.

The theme for this year is “Deja-Vu,” featuring about 30 films of many different genres and countries.

“There are a lot of remakes of the classics but people don’t actually get to watch the classics,” said Kim Seong-uk, the program director of the association. “This year’s program is designed to offer that dj-vu experience where people can see the original form of the popular movies they’ve been watching.”

Speaking of the classics, horror movie fans would be delighted to watch the legendary Hitchcock movies in theater. Three of his films, “Psycho” (1960), “Vertigo” (1958) and “The Birds” (1963) have been included in this year’s program. “Psycho,” (1960) in particular, spawned two sequels, one remake, one prequel, and a TV movie.

For local movie lovers, director Hur Jin-ho’s 1998 film “Christmas in August” as well as “One Fine Spring Day” (2001) would bring some good memories of the late 1990s. It would be a rare opportunity to watch early works of Hur in theater, who has developed his own distinctive cinematic flair for romance films throughout the years. He will attend the screenings of his slow-paced, reflective films, and will speak with the audience after.
A scene from “Christmas in August,” a 1998 film by Korean director Hur Jin-ho
A scene from “Christmas in August,” a 1998 film by Korean director Hur Jin-ho

Anyone who is into literature, as well as the movies, might want to check out special screenings of five films made based on works of Russian author Anton Chekhov. Scholars who specialize in Chekhov studies will attend the screenings and give a lecture about the Russian author’s life and his literary legacy. The five Chekhov-inspired movies are: “The Wedding” (1944); “The Hopper” (1955); “Belated Flowers” (1969); “The Seagull” (1970); and “Ward No. 6” (2009).

If you are willing to sit in the theater for more than five hours, check out French director Olivier Assayas’ 2010 film “Carlos” which is 330 minutes long. The film, which is an epic cinematic portrait of the notorious international terrorist Carlos the Jackal, will be screened in its original version without any cuttings.

Four special lectures by film critics and scholars, on film directors Michael Cimino, Robert Aldrich, Brian De Palma, and Orson Welles, will also be available after each filmmaker’s work gets screened.

If you are into American cinema, check out Michael Cimino’s 1978 Vietnam War drama “Dear Hunter,” Michael Mann’s 1995 action film “Heat,” and “Dressed to Kill,” (1980) a erotic crime thriller by Brain de Palma.

Aside from the upcoming event, Seoul Art Cinema is currently screening 12 works of Japanese director Mikio Naruse (1905-1969), who directed some 90 films from 1930 to 1967. Almost all of his films have female protagonists, while focusing on stories of dysfunctional families and their drama. The Mikio Naruse screenings run till July 24.

“The diversity of the film industry is being threatened as very small numbers of blockbusters are dominating the venues,” said Kim Seong-uk, the program director. “We hope to be the place where Seoulites can visit as a summer getaway while experiencing the rich history and diversity of films at the same time.”

“2011 Cine-Vancances Seoul“ will run through Aug. 28. For tickets and information, call (02) 741- 9782 or visit www.cinematheque.seoul.kr.

By Claire Lee (dyc@heraldcorp.com)
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