When February came and went with no mention of the New York Korean Film Festival, I was disheartened. With all of the far-less-deserving festivals in this fine city, I couldn’t accept that this one had gone away.
Fortunately, my worries were unfounded. Next, BAM, in association with the Korea Society and Subway Cinema, will be bringing the festival back with seven films playing over four nights. The lineup is pretty interesting, and includes a couple of films I’ve been looking forward to for a while, including Yang Woo-seok’s The Attorney, starring the spectacular Song Kang-ho. I highly recommend you check out the lineup. And if you’re not convinced, we’ll bring you some reviews next week to let you know what should (and should not) be on your radar.
For more information, the full press release can be found below or over at the BAM website.
BAMcinématek, The Korea Society, and Subway Cinema present the 12th New York Korean Film Festival, Nov 20—23
Director Zhang Lu in person on Opening Night
The Wall Street Journal is the title sponsor for BAMcinématek and BAM Rose Cinemas.
Brooklyn, NY/Oct 23, 2014 — From Thursday, November 20 through Sunday, November 23, BAMcinématek presents the New York Korean Film Festival, a four-day series showcasing the freshest crop of record-breaking blockbusters and must-see recent works by the peninsula’s most celebrated auteurs and mavericks. BAMcinématek has been a strong champion of Korean cinema, hosting the festival on 11 occasions and presenting retrospectives of Park Chan-wook in 2005, Bong Joon-ho in 2010, and Kim Ji-woon in 2011, among others. This year, BAMcinématek, The Korea Society, and Subway Cinema join forces for a renewed 12th edition of the festival, which also marks Subway Cinema’s first time curating NYKFF since the program launched in 2001.
Opening the festival on Thursday, November 20 is the US premiere of Zhang Lu’s existential comedy Gyeongju, in which a man journeys home for a funeral and finds an unexpected connection with a stranger. Drawing comparisons to Hong Sang-soo and Richard Linklater’s Before series, Gyeongju is “exquisitely observed…the cinematic equivalent of a good Haruki Murakami novel, complete with a few delicately supernatural touches” (Peter Debruge, Variety). Lu will appear in person for a Q&A following the screening.
The New York Korean Film Festival also presents special screenings of two of South Korea’s biggest box office successes: Kim Han-min’s sea epic The Admiral: Roaring Currents (Nov 22), which surpassed Avatar as the highest grossing film in the nation’s history and chronicles the heroic defeat of Japan in the 16th-century Battle of Myeongnyang; and Lee Suk-hoon’s The Pirates (Nov 23), a family-friendly adventure comedy.
Making its North American premiere is Kim Kyung-mook’s Futureless Things (Nov 23), an episodic comedy following a day in the lives of a motley crew of convenience store employees. Also screening are Yang Woo-seok’s The Attorney (Nov 21), loosely based on the true story of ex-President of Roh Moo-hyun and starring Song Kang-ho (Snowpiercer, The Host); Jang Jin’s Man on High Heels (Nov 22), in which a detective’s sex-change operation is delayed by a gang’s revenge plot; and Kim Seong-hun’s police thriller A Hard Day (Nov 21), which seamlessly blends “heady black humor, social satire and a touch of surrealism” (Maggie Lee, Variety).
As an extension of the festival, DramaFever will host two additional films streaming online: Lee Jae-kyoo’s 18th-century costume drama The Fatal Encounter, about an elaborate plot to assassinate the king; and Lee Myung-se’s visually ravishing M, featuring complex dream sequences and expressionist nightmares of a novelist suffering from writers’ block. More information to be announced.
New York Korean Film Festival Schedule
Thu, Nov 20
Q&A with director Zhang Lu
Fri, Nov 21
7pm: The Attorney
9:40pm: A Hard Day
Sat, Nov 22
6:45pm: The Admiral: Roaring Currents
9:30pm: Man on High Heels
Sun, Nov 23
4:45pm: The Pirates
7:30pm: Futureless Things
Film Descriptions (All films in Korean with English subtitles.)
The Admiral: Roaring Currents (2014) 128min
Directed by Kim Han-min.
With Choi Min-sik, Ryoo Seung-ryong, Cho Jin-woong, Jin Goo, Lee Jung-hyun.
The blockbuster to sink all blockbusters, this massive sea epic depicts the 1597 Battle of Myeongryang, in which a formidable Japanese fleet threatened the very existence of the peaceful peninsula. In a desperate, defiant last stand, Korea’s most celebrated historical hero, Admiral Yi Sun-shin, portrayed by Choi Min-sik (Besson’s Lucy, Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy), tries to save his homeland with only a dozen ships at his command and his fierce determination not to go down without a good fight. DCP.
Sat, Nov 22 at 6:45pm
The Attorney (2013) 127min
Directed by Yang Woo-seok.
With Song Kang-ho, Kim Young-ae, Oh Dal-su, Kwak Do-won, Siwan.
The year’s most controversial box office hit was this feature based on the life of former South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun. Set during the country’s military dictatorship, it chronicles the moral transformation of a pragmatic, mercenary, and somewhat shady attorney-at-law Song Woo-seok (Song Kang-ho, beloved for his roles in The Host and this year’s Snowpiercer), who only got into the legal profession for the money. But everything changes when he decides to challenge the country’s National Security Law by taking on a student activist (Yim Si-wan), who has been unfairly arrested and tortured by the government, as his client. Digital.
Fri, Nov 21 at 7pm
Futureless Things (2014) 107min North American Premiere!
Directed by Kim Kyung-mook.
With Kim Su-hyeon, Yoo Yeong, Jeong Hye-in, Gong Myeong, Shin Jae-ha.
This comedy of manners chronicles 24 hours in the intertwined lives of young clerks working at the same convenience store. Structured in 13 episodes, the film brings into the spotlight the private joys and tears of usually invisible people, revealing a fascinating world of part-timers, college dropouts, North Korean defectors, and social outcasts eking out a living in the interstices of ultra-consumerist South Korea. DCP.
Sun, Nov 23 at 7:30pm
Gyeongju (2014) 145min US Premiere!
Directed by Zhang Lu.
With Park Hae-il, Shin Min-ah, Yoon Jin-seo, Kim Tae-hoon, Shin So-yul, Baek Hyun-jin, Ryoo Seung-wan.
In this poetic, sentimental journey in the vein of Hong Sang-soo, Peking University professor Choi-Hyun (War of Arrows’ Park Hae-il) returns to the city of Gyeongju to attend a friend’s funeral. Spurred by the memory of an obscene picture he saw seven years ago on the wall of a teahouse, he proceeds on a strangely aimless quest, fumbling between tantalizing possibilities of erotic satisfaction or perhaps something of a more spiritual nature. DCP.
Thu, Nov 20 at 7:15pm Q&A with Zhang Lu
A Hard Day (2014) 111min
Directed by Kim Seong-hun.
With Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Jin-woong, Jeong Man-sik, Shin Jung-keun, Kim Dong-young, Joo Suk-tae.
A selection of the Directors’ Fortnight at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, this slick police thriller follows detective Ko Gun-soo (Hong Sang-soo regular and blockbuster frequent flyer Lee Sun-kyun) on a breathless race against karma and all sorts of odds and (deadly) ends. After running over a stranger on an otherwise deserted, dark highway, he hastily shoves the dead body in his trunk in a moment of wild panic, buying himself a world of trouble. What follows is a super-charged mix of bone-crushing action, chases, black humor, and social satire, proving once again that no one makes smart genre films the way Koreans do. DCP.
Fri, Nov 21 at 9:40pm
Man on High Heels (2014) 125min
Directed by Jang Jin.
With Cha Seung-won, Oh Jeong-se, Esom, Ko Kyeong-pyo, Ahn Kil-kang, Lee Eon-jeong.
One of Korea’s most inventive writer-directors Jang Jin (Welcome to Dongmakgol) returns from a three-year hiatus to subvert the detective genre and established notions of Korean masculinity. Detective Ji-wook (Cha Seung-won) is the most bad-ass cop in town, never missing an opportunity to beat the crap out of the bad guys. But just as he decides to move forward with getting a sex-change operation, his plans are derailed when a gang that he has busted starts hurting people close to him. Digital.
Sat, Nov 22 at 9:30pm
The Pirates (2014) 130min
Directed by Lee Suk-hoon.
With Kim Nam-gil, Son Ye-jin, Yu Hae-jin, Lee Kyoung-young, Kim Tae-woo.
Korea’s answer to Pirates of the Caribbean is this family-friendly, Hollywood-style swashbuckling period comedy, powered by an ensemble cast, including Son Ye-jin (White Night, My Wife Got Married) as a lady pirate and Kim Nam-gil as the unshaven beau. Follow four rival parties of pirates, bandits, and soldiers as they search for a grey whale that swallowed a royal seal—and encounter sea wenches, a bad guy with an eye-patch, and slapstick aplenty. Arrrrr! DCP.
Sun, Nov 23 at 4:45pm
The four-screen BAM Rose Cinemas (BRC) opened in 1998 to offer Brooklyn audiences alternative and independent films that might not play in the borough otherwise, making BAM the only performing arts center in the country with two mainstage theaters and a multiplex cinema. In July 1999, beginning with a series celebrating the work of Spike Lee, BAMcinématek was born as Brooklyn’s only daily, year-round repertory film program. BAMcinématek presents new and rarely seen contemporary films, classics, work by local artists, and festivals of films from around the world, often with special appearances by directors, actors, and other guests. BAMcinématek has not only presented major retrospectives by major filmmakers such as Michelangelo Antonioni, Manoel de Oliveira, Shohei Imamura, Vincente Minnelli (winning a National Film Critics’ Circle Award prize for the retrospective), Kaneto Shindo, Luchino Visconti, and William Friedkin, but it has also introduced New York audiences to contemporary artists such as Pedro Costa and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. In addition, BAMcinématek programmed the first US retrospectives of directors Arnaud Desplechin, Nicolas Winding Refn, Hong Sang-soo, and, most recently, Andrzej Zulawski. From 2006 to 2008, BAMcinématek partnered with the Sundance Institute and in June 2009 launched BAMcinemaFest, a 16-day festival of new independent films and repertory favorites with 15 NY feature film premieres; the sixth annual BAMcinemaFest ran from June 18—29, 2014.
About Korea Society
The Korea Society is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) organization with individual and corporate members that is dedicated solely to the promotion of greater awareness, understanding and cooperation between the people of
the United States and Korea. In pursuit of its mission, the Society arranges programs that facilitate discussion, exchanges and research on topics of vital interest to both countries in the areas of public policy, business, education, intercultural relations and the arts. Funding for these programs is derived from contributions, endowments, grants, membership dues and program fees. From its base in New York City, the Society serves audiences across the country through its own outreach efforts and by forging strategic alliances with counterpart organizations in other cities throughout the United States as well as in Korea. The Korea Society traces its roots to 1957 when a group of prominent Americans, under the leadership of General James A. Van Fleet, who commanded the U.S. armed forces in the final phase of the Korean War, established the first nonprofit organization in the United States dedicated to the promotion of friendly relations between the people of the United States and Korea “through mutual understanding and appreciation of their respective cultures, aims, ideals, arts, sciences and industries.” As it exists today, The Korea Society is the successor to several interconnected organizations pursuing aspects of these objectives which were established through the joint efforts of Americans and Koreans over the ensuing decades, most notably, the New York-based U.S.-Korea Society and the Washington, DC-based U.S.-Korea Foundation. In June 1993, these two organizations were merged to form The Korea Society. Today the leadership of The Korea Society is in the hands of Mark C. Minton, a distinguished former Foreign Service officer who serves as president, and Thomas C. Hubbard, a former U.S. ambassador to Korea, who serves in the capacity of chairman of the board. They are supported by a board of directors drawn from the fields of business, the professions, academia and public affairs and an advisory council whose members are leading public figures in Korea and the U.S.
About Subway Cinema
Subway Cinema is America’s leading 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the exhibition and appreciation of Asian popular film culture in all its forms, with year-round festivals and programs and a view to building bridges between Asia and the West. Subway Cinema was the first organization in America to recognize the works of directors Johnnie To and Tsui Hark with retrospectives, and the first programming entity to bring major attention to New Korean Cinema with the first New York Korean Film Festival in 2001. In 2002, Subway Cinema launched its flagship event, the annual New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), which has been presented in collaboration with the Film Society of Lincoln Center since 2010. Now entering its 14th year, NYAFF is North America’s premier festival of popular Asian cinema. Subway Cinema’s other events and initiatives include the annual Old School Kung Fu Fest (showcase for the best of classic martial-arts films), the New York Korean Film Festival (presented in collaboration with BAMcinématek and the Korea Society since 2014), and the Asian Film Preservation Fund. Subway Cinema receives generous, year-round support from the Kenneth A. Cowin Foundation. For more information, visit subwaycinema.com, facebook.com/NYAFF and follow @subwaycinema on Twitter.
The Wall Street Journal is the title sponsor of BAM Rose Cinemas and BAMcinématek.
Steinberg Screen at the BAM Harvey Theater is made possible by The Joseph S. and Diane H. Steinberg Charitable Trust.
Pepsi is the official beverage of BAM.
Brooklyn Brewery is the preferred beer of BAMcinématek.
BAM Rose Cinemas are named in recognition of a major gift in honor of Jonathan F.P. and Diana Calthorpe Rose. BAM Rose Cinemas would also like to acknowledge the generous support of The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, The Estate of Richard B. Fisher, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Brooklyn Delegation of the New York City Council, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, Bloomberg, and Time Warner Inc. Additional support for BAMcinématek is provided by The Grodzins Fund, The Liman Foundation, the Frederick Loewe Foundation, and Summit Rock Advisors.
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
BAMcinématek is programmed by Nellie Killian and David Reilly with assistance from Gabriele Caroti and Jesse Trussell. Additional programming by Ryan Werner.
Special thanks to: Goran Topalovic, Samuel Jamier, and Rufus De Ram/Subway Cinema; Daniel B. Levine, and Seho Kim/The Korea Society.
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, BAM Rose Cinemas, and BAMcafé are located in the Peter Jay Sharp building at 30 Lafayette Avenue (between St Felix Street and Ashland Place) in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. BAM Harvey Theater is located two blocks from the main building at 651 Fulton Street (between Ashland and Rockwell Places). Both locations house Greenlight Bookstore at BAM kiosks. BAM Fisher, located at 321 Ashland Place, is the newest addition to the BAM campus and houses the Judith and Alan Fishman Space and Rita K. Hillman Studio. BAM Rose Cinemas is Brooklyn’s only movie house dedicated to first-run independent and foreign film and repertory programming. BAMcafé, operated by Great Performances, offers a bar menu and dinner entrées prior to BAM Howard Gilman Opera House evening performances. BAMcafé also features an eclectic mix of spoken word and live music for BAMcafé Live on Friday and Saturday nights with a bar menu available starting at 6pm.
Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5, Q, B to Atlantic Avenue – Barclays Center (2, 3, 4, 5 to Nevins St for Harvey
Theater) D, N, R to Pacific Street; G to Fulton Street; C to Lafayette Avenue
Train: Long Island Railroad to Atlantic Terminal – Barclays Center
Bus: B25, B26, B41, B45, B52, B63, B67 all stop within three blocks of BAM
Car: Commercial parking lots are located adjacent to BAM
For ticket information, call BAM Ticket Services at 718.636.4100, or visit BAM.org.