The 2013 New York Korean Film Festival should be awesome


Last year’s New York Korean Film Festival was awesome. It had a great selection, including one film that I now count among my favorites of all time. I have been looking forward to NYKFF’s return ever since, and I don’t have to wait much longer. This weekend, February 22nd through the 24th, the Korea Society will be screening eight new films at the BAM Rose Cinema in Brooklyn. I’ve heard of most of the films, and several have been on my radar for some time, so I am very excited that they are going to be playing together.

The lineup includes Kim Ki-Duk’s Pieta, which was South Korea’s entry into the 85th Oscars (obviously, and unfortunately, it didn’t make the final cut); Masquerade, a period piece that I’ve just barely missed being able to see at least a couple of times in the past couple of months; and Dancing Queen, which I have never heard of but I’m an ABBA fan so I’m excited anyway.

The festivities start at 7:00 PM on Friday with Pieta and will run through the weekend. Unfortunately, each film is only screening once, so if there is something you’re particularly dying to see, you’ve got to make sure you’re available at that time. The fact that it’s playing over the weekend should hopefully alleviate some of that scheduling stress though. Depending on our own scheduling, we will hopefully be able to bring you reviews of at least a couple of the films throughout the fest, so even if you miss them here, you know to look out for them in the future.

The screening schedule and descriptions of the films can be found below. For more information about the festival, head over to the Korea Society website or the BAM website.

Friday, February 22 7:00 Pieta 9:30 All Bark, No Bite
Saturday, February 23 4:00 Dancing Queen 6:30 Masquerade 9:15 A Werewolf Boy
Sunday, February 24 2:00 In Another Country 4:30 Architecture 101 7:00 Deranged

Pieta (104 min)     

Friday, February 22 | 7:00 PM

Directed by Kim Ki-duk. With Jo Min-soo, Lee Jung-jin, Kang Eun-jin, and Kim Jae-rok. A loan shark is forced to reconsider his violent lifestyle after the arrival of a mysterious woman claiming to be his long-lost mother. After making Dream (2008), director Kim lived in seclusion for 4 years before directing Pieta. With themes of redemption and forgiveness, the film won numerous prizes, including the Golden Lion Award at Venice International Film Festival 2012 (a first for Korean film). A special premier, before Drafthouse releases the film to theaters in May, 2013. 104 min.

All Bark, No Bite (Gaedeurui Jeonjaeng) (96 min)     

Friday, February 22 | 9:30 PM

Directed by Jo Byeong-ok. With Kim Mu-yeol, Jin Seon-gyu, Seo Dong-gap, and Kim Hyun-jung. Even a remote town breeds a gang. Young men pass the time on the rooftop of a run-down coffee house, picking a fight with a delivery boy and collecting debt on behalf of others. Even though the hoodlums are not exactly saints, they never really harm anyone and care about each other. Then one day, the legendary gang member Seil comes back and threatens to take away their self-respect and peaceful life. Will they bite back? 96 min.

Dancing Queen (Daensing Kwin) (124 min)     

Saturday, February 23 | 4:00 PM

Directed by Lee Seok-hoon. With Hwang Jung-min, Um Jeung-hwa, and Ra Mi-ran. This lovable romantic comedy shows that dreams can come true if you just try hard enough. A housewife gets the chance of a lifetime to become a dance singer. However, she barely begins to feel excited about her upcoming challenge when her husband makes a shocking declaration that he is running for mayor of Seoul. This is the third collaboration between actress Um Jung-hwa and actor Hwang Jung-min, so their chemistry sets the screen on fire. Real pop singer Un’s dancing skills are a joy for the eyes. 124 min.

Masquerade (Gwanghae, Wangi Doen Namja) (131 min)     

Saturday, February 23 | 6:30 PM

Directed by Choo Chang-min. With Lee Byung-hun, Ryu Seung-ryong, and Han Hyo-joo. In order to avoid assassination, King Gwang Hae orders a body double be found. By time the council finds a suitable candidate from the common folk, the King has already been poisoned and is in a coma. The commoner must now rule the kingdom. After over 20 years as an actor, Lee Byung-hun (Shadow Storm; G.I. Joe) stars in a historical drama. Adapted fromThe Prince and Pauper, the story takes place in 16th century Choson Korea, and Lee plays both roles of the tragic historical figure of King Kwang Hae and his body double. Masquerade topped the box-office charts in 2012. 131 min.

A Werewolf Boy (Neukdae Sonyeon) (125 min)     

Saturday, February 23 | 9:15 PM

Directed by Jo Sung-Hee. With Song Joong-ki, Park Bo-young. “This remarkable entertainment features an undying love, suspense, a sci-fi mystery, tenderness,…and some very jagged teeth”-Tony Rayns from Vancouver Int. Film Festival 2012. The first big-budget feature film from director Jo Sung-hee (End of Animal, 2011) is an unexpectedly powerful love story. A Korean grandmother remembers her family’s move into a new home after the war, where they come across a mysterious wild boy. South Korean heartthrob Song Joong-ki shows that he is more than a pretty face. 125 min.

In Another Country (Dareun naraesuh) (88 min) 

Sunday, February 24 | 2:00 PM

Written and directed by Hong Sang-soo. With Isabelle Huppert, Yu Jun-sang, Kwon Hye-hyo, Moon So-ri. Encore screening after premiered at ‘Yeonghwa: Korean Film Today’ at MoMA 2012. Widely well known Korean director, Hang Sang-soo’s film which earned critical acclaim at Cannes Film Festival 2012, French national actress, Isabelle Huppert plays three roles who falls in love with married man and come to seaside town in Korea. The interplay of parallel narratives is exquisitely handled, and In Another Country is a luminous bagatelle. 88 min.

Architecture 101 (Geonchukhakgaeron) (118 min)     

Sunday, February 24 | 4:30 PM

Directed by Lee Yong-joo. With Um Tae-woong, Han Ga-in, Lee Je-hoon, and Suzy. After 15 years, Seo-yeon reappears and requests that he design a house for her. The narrative goes back and forth between the past and present day. This romantic drama examines the bittersweet memory and nostalgia adults feel for their first loves. It sold 4.1 million tickets, a box-office record for Korean melodramas, and was voted the movie of 2012 to watch again. 118 min.

Deranged (Yeon-ga-sii) (109 min)     

Sunday, February 24 | 7:00 PM

Directed by Park Jeong-woo. With Kim Myung-min, Moon Jeong-hee, Kim Dong-wan, and Lee Ha-nui. Jae-hyuk works as a medical supplies salesman; his brother Jae-pil is a detective. The discovery of a series of floating, skeletal bodies around the country sparks hysteria. People have been jumping into water as if possessed and drowning themselves. When Jae-pil meets the mayor of a small town who claims he witnessed several men in work uniforms dumping infected dogs into the streams, he realizes that there is a conspiracy behind the outbreak. 109 min.