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Women, rookie directors to be spotlighted at Seoul Independent Film fest

The Seoul Independent Film Festival is set to spotlight films by female directors and debut features by promising indie filmmakers this year.

The 43rd edition of the nine-day festival -- Korea’s only competition film festival for indie films -- takes place from Thursday to Dec. 8.

This year’s opening film is “Cinema With You,” a 36-minute omnibus film by Yoo Ji-young, Jeong Ga-young and Kim Tae-jin. The film begins by tracing the life of Sun-mi, an office worker who has been dispatched to a remote provincial city where she lives a humdrum life. One day, Sun-mi receives an anonymous note requesting a meeting at a theater. On her way, Sun-mi becomes lost in the unfamiliar streets and comes to terms with her deep-seated solitude.

A still from “Cinema With You,” this year’s opening film at the Seoul Independent Film Festival (SIFF)
A still from “Cinema With You,” this year’s opening film at the Seoul Independent Film Festival (SIFF)

A total of 111 works will be screened at the festival this year. Some 38 works are showing in the competition category, with a 20 million won ($18,500) cash prize offered to the Grand Prize winner, while 26 works are competing in the New Choice category. Some 30 works have been invited for special screenings.

Works by 52 female directors, who make up 47 percent of the invited directors, will be showcased this year.

Films such as Jeon Go-woon’s “Microhabitat,” which features model-turned actress Lee Som in a story about Seoul’s youths, and Jeong Hee-jae’s “A Haunting Hitchhike,” a coming-of-age tale about a group of girls on a road trip, are directed by female directors and led by female characters.

In addition, a handful of up-and-coming rookie directors who showcased promising shorts in the past are debuting feature films this year.

For instance, Choi Heon-kyu is debuting with “So-eun,” about a countryside high-school girl who dreams of forming a school basketball team. Kim Ui-seok is debuting with “After My Death,” about a student who goes missing with no trace of a body or suicide note.

Screenings will take place at CGV Arthouse Apgujeong and Jongno-gu’s Indiespace and Cinematheque Seoul Art Cinema theaters.

SIFF is hosted by the Korean Film Council and the Association of Korean Independent Film & Video.

An opening ceremony will take place Thursday evening at CGV Apgujeong, moderated by actor Kwon Hae-hyo and actress Ryu Si-hyun.

Filmmakers will share their experiences in indie film production and distribution at a talk Monday at 3:30 p.m. at CGV Arthouse Apgujeong.

At 3 p.m. on Tuesday at Cinematheque Seoul Art Cinema, Ko Young-jae, head of the Association of Korean Independent Film & Video, and a panel of indie film programmers will discuss the need for a new film policy following the previous administration’s blacklisting of progressive cultural figures.

By Rumy Doo (

Korea Herald daum