How time flies on the festival calendar, as one of the most exciting (and prominent) Asian film events is about to land yet again; the Korean Film Festival in Australia, or KOFFIA as its lovingly known, has just released its lineup and clever ethos for this year. From festival favourites to lighthearted commercial fare, the strong direction this year is on genre. KOFFIA is diverging less, but the program is all the more stronger for it with focused and specific selections guaranteed to intrigue and entice utilising the language of cinema.
The theme this year is Gujoelpan, a traditional dish incorporating the wrapping of several ingredients to create one wholesome flavour. KOFFIA celebrates the coming together of diverse genres and encourages all enthusiasts of film to feast their eyes. Featuring a complement of 20 features, 80 screenings will take place across Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide. Without further ado here is the lineup!
The festival opens with 4th Place, described as a Korean coming-of-age tale meets Damien Chazelle's Whiplash, this film is set in the world of ultra-competitve swimming with Hae-Joon Park as the sadistic coach stealing the show.
Real Surreal is a section that highlights horror both psychological and literal, as well as twisted black comedy; Office is a razor sharp satire of corporate life turned psycho-thriller. Alice in Earnestland explores psychosis from a different and much more personal angle as a woman is driven to madness and back again as the fictional Korea 'Earnestland' is viciously and vividly explored. Finally Collective Invention explores social satire from the perspective of a merman; check out Pierce's review here. The Right Fright is exactly as it sounds with possession thriller and zombie action smash The Priests and Train to Busan respectively.
Strangely The Wailing (Screen Anarchy's most loved film of 2016 so far, check Pierce's review here and do not miss it) is listed under the section A Time For Crime. Joining that film, which is most certainly horror, is The Classified File; based on the real-life missing person case in 1978, this thriller explores the unlikely partnership between psychic and Detective; Inside Men completes the trifecta of superb genre cinema with political intrigue, gangster violence and Lee Byun-hun. Hold on Tight continues the complex thrills with Ryoo Seung-wan's justice-seeking and explosive Veteran and period revenge tale Assassination; a superb effort from Choi Dong-hoon (The Thieves).
Prepare the tissues to laugh-cry into as Love Out Loud includes drama, romance and comedy. Recording chronicles just that as a girl prepares a record of her life after being diagnosed with cancer; Like for Likes goes omnibus with questions of contemporary love and Two Rooms, Two Nights livens things up with a crazy premise all about two-timing. Not part of this section but Hong Sang-soo's latest joint Right now, Wrong then will be screening at KOFFIA, Pierce calls it a delight in his review. Finally, Family Matters delves into dysfunction from two different points entirely. The Throne is a period drama that seeks to explain the greatest tragedy, treason and traitor in the history of Korea; End of Winter on the other hand paints an austere picture of the modern day, examining divorce and its impact on an already broken family.
The festival closes with biopic Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet, but more excitingly Sydney gets an exclusive session of Crossroads of Youth; a live silent film sensation featuring live band, musical actors and a charismatic narrator. This incredible experience is not to be missed.
Pierce Conran contributed to this story.