Korean Film Festival In Australia (KOFFIA) Unveils Its Full Program For 2012!

Contributing Writer; Sydney, Australia (@HugoOzman)
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Korean Film Festival In Australia (KOFFIA) Unveils Its Full Program For 2012!
The full program for the 2012 Korean Film Festival In Australia (KOFFIA) has just been unveiled. This year's streams include Panorama, Modern Classics, K-Mystery, K-Comedy, Documentary, Animation and Short Films. The line-up is undoubtedly the best since the Festival started in 2010, and fans of Korean cinema will certainly be delighted with the chance to see the latest Korean blockbusters and hits such as War of the Arrows, Sunny and The Frontline, as well as thrilled by the opportunity to revisit some of the modern classics like Oldboy, Christmas in August and Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring, all on the big screen!

Here's what the organizers said about the program:

Our Panorama section showcases the latest release films from Korea that have either been commercially successful or critically acclaimed. Presenting a mixture of films from prominent auteur film-makers to first time directors, this year's Panorama is a representation of the current state of the Korean film industry.

We are proud to present 4 Australian and 3 Sydney premieres covering the 7 feature films in the Panorama section, which includes our opening and closing films for the festival. From the Top 2 films of the 2011 Korean box office, WAR OF THE ARROWS and SUNNY, to the competition films straight from this year's Cannes Film Festival, IN ANOTHER COUNTRY and THE TASTE OF MONEY.

The line-up also includes Korea's official submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Award at the Academy Awards, THE FRONTLINE, a black and white tale from Hong Sang-soo, THE DAY HE ARRIVES, and the indie senior citizen romance that swept the nation off their feet, LATE BLOSSOM. We aim to continue developing our Panorama section each year, as we take you on a journey straight to the heart of Seoul.

We encourage all Korean cinephiles alike to sample the films in this section, as it will build your connection to and enhance your understanding of modern Korean film-making and culture.

Modern Classics
This year, the festival will continue to present a host of Modern Classics of Korean cinema, films from the recent past that have received worldwide recognition and cult followings.

Last year we began this program by screening Park Chan-wook's J.S.A. Joint Security Area, and discovered that many from our audience were in fact seeing the film for the first time. We have further developed this section this year with the aim of bringing the must-sees of Korean cinema to the big screen.

This year, Park Chan-wook's seminal crime classic OLDBOY, Hur Jin-ho's melodrama phenomenon CHRISTMAS IN AUGUST and Kim Ki-duk's subtle and beautiful SPRING SUMMER AUTUMN WINTER ... AND SPRING will screen in all 3 states. The films will be partnered with industry forums and guest speakers from various fields to discuss the importance of and history behind these Modern Classics of Korean cinema.

The festival will also celebrate its own unique KOFFIA Christmas reception at the August 25th screening of CHRISTMAS IN AUGUST in Sydney.

Whether you have never seen these films, or know them from back to front, we invite you to watch them on the silver screen in glorious 35mm prints. The Modern Classics section will both refresh your connection to Korean cinema, and introduce you to the best of what it has to offer.

In 2012 we will present a spectrum focus on popular and prominent genres of Korean Cinema. Each year we will aim to highlight a new K-Genre as we reflect a strong aspect to what Korean cinema is all about.

Filled will quirky characters and bold colours, K-Comedy shows the lighter side to Korean cinema. With almost 18 million admissions in Korea between them, these 3 films prove that comedy is no laughing matter!

The smash hit rom-com of 2012 that's still in theatres, ALL ABOUT MY WIFE will see its Australian premiere take place just weeks after its release in Korea. With almost 5 million admissions and counting, it is arguably the hottest film of the KOFFIA 2012 line-up. Hilarious, unique, and will an all-star cast that includes Im Soo-jung (I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK), Lee Sun-kyun (Oki's Movie, KOFFIA 2011) and Ryoo Seung-ryong (War of the Arrows, KOFFIA 2012), it's no wonder it was a hit!

Adapted from a novel, DETECTIVE K: SECRET OF THE VIRTUOUS WIDOW is a detective story set in 18th century Korea with all the slapstick fun of Chaplin, and bumbling charm of Clousseau. Be taken to the past, with a different tone to what you may usually expect.

Finally, the highest grossing Korean film of 2008, Kang Hyeong-cheol's SPEEDY SCANDAL will round out the K-Comedy line-up. This charming family comedy starring the adorable Cha Tae-hyun (My Sassy Girl) will make you laugh and loud and even shed a tear. Director Kang Hyeong-cheol and Producer Lee Anna will attend the Sydney screening of the film.

Discover your connection to the lighter side of Korean cinema with our K-Comedy focus.

In 2012 we will present a spectrum focus on popular and prominent genres of Korean Cinema. Each year we will aim to highlight a new K-Genre as we reflect a strong aspect to what Korean cinema is all about. Known for its dark outlook and twist and turns, K-Mystery will cover both the controversial and the creative with films that feature strong lead performances.

Be put in the shoes of the jury in the heavyweight drama that pits Ha Jung-woo (The Yellow Sea) up against Park Hee-soon (A Barefoot Dream, KOFFIA2011) in the Australian premiere of THE CLIENT. An epic courtroom thriller that asks you to decide the verdict!

BLEAK NIGHT explores the complexities of high school friendships in what is a wise film with a structure that will keep you guessing to the very end. Awarded Best New Director prizes at the prestigious Daejong Film Awards and Blue Dragon Film Awards, director Yoon Sung-hyun is quickly becoming a reputable name in the next-generation of South Korean film-makers.

Adapted from the highly controversial online novel The Crucible (Dogani), SILENCED unearths the true story behind events at a school for the disabled in Gwangju. The film sparked outrage both locally and internationally, and even led to a call for further investigations into the case.

These 3 films present a diverse look at films in the K-Mystery genre, that we invite you to get to the bottom of.

This year, the KOFFIA line-up has expanded to include a wider range of films, which sees feature Animations screen for the very first time. This Animation selection reflects a recent trend in the industry, which seems to suggest a bright future for this often maligned technique.

Korean animators have successfully worked on high scale productions for a number of years, from James Cameron's Avatar to The Simpsons Movie. Animated feature films themselves have been much more sparse. KOFFIA 2012 will present 2 feature films that juxtapose one another, proving that the industry has learnt to adjust to a competitive market place.

LEAFIE: A HEN INTO THE WILD, based on a popular children's book, went on to be the highest grossing Korean animation of all time, and will have its Australian premiere at KOFFIA. While the 1st ever Korean film to be in competition at the Sydney Film Festival, THE KING OF PIGS, will also screen in what is a much darker and adult side to animation.

We will further explore the progress that the Korean Animation industry has made with industry forums, and even look at the possibility of the Korean and Australian industries working together. Above all, these two brave and bold films should be taken as more than just an animation, but a feature film in their own right.

A strong Documentary section will compliment this year's trend for diversity, highlighting a sector of Korean cinema that has come along leaps and bounds in recent years.

It was only in the 1980′s that Korean independent documentaries started emerging, while today a lucky few features manage to have a theatrical release each year. A few films do manage to punch above their weight and make it to a larger audience, with OLD PARTNER (KOFFIA 2010) and EARTH'S WOMEN (KOFFIA 2011), both of which were awarded the Best Documentary prize from the Busan International Film Festival in '08 and '09 respectively, are two such examples.

This year's Documentary section covers both social issues and docos about cinema itself. Kim Ki-duk's ultimate piece of auteur cinema ARIRANG, the inaugural winner of the Brisbane International Film Festival's BIFFDOCS prize, will have its Sydney premiere at KOFFIA, a perfect complement to the screening of his early classic SPRING SYMMER AUTUMN WINTER ... AND SPRING.

A great film for those passionate about music and creative individuals, THE REASON WHY I STEP, will screen in Australia for the first time. The film follows Korean folk musician Baek Ja of the group Urinara (Our Country) and the changes in popular movements in Korean society over the past decade.

Finally a special free daytime session of Cinema on the Park will take place on August 23rd at the Korean Cultural Office, with the Australian premiere of THROUGH KOREAN CINEMA. Featuring interviews with prominent Korean directors Im Kwon-taek, Lee Myung-se, Park Kwang-su, Park Chan-wook and Lee Chang-dong, it's the perfect way to discover a deeper connection to Korean film.

International Short Film Showcase
For the first time, KOFFIA will present a selection of the best and latest short films from Korean filmmakers. With directors based both in Korea and the USA, the KOFFIA International Short Film Showcase will see 11 Australian premieres and 1 Sydney premiere take place in 2012.
Streams covered include a selection of award winning films screened recently at major international festivals, Panorama, films of dark tales and intriguing characters, K-Mystery, and a special theme developed specifically for this shorts showcase, School Days, that represents various aspects of high school life.

The Festival will be running in Sydney (August 22-28), Melbourne (September 8-12) and Brisbane (September 27-30). Check the official website for further details. 

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