The 14th annual London Korean Film Festival (LKFF) has begun its run from the 1st to the 14th November in London, before embarking on an annual tour bringing select highlights from its programme around the UK and Belfast.
The festival will arrive at Belfast’s Queen’s Film Theatre on the 19th of November, bringing with it one of the best works from this year’s Special Focus: A Century of Korean Cinema, and two modern hits from our Cinema Now strand.
Building upon Queen’s Film Theatre’s long-running tradition of screening the best in classic and contemporary independent cinema, the London Korean Film Festival is proud to present, Aimless Bullet from director Yu Hyun-mok. Little known in the west, Yu is one of the most significant figures in Korean film history and this rare chance to see a classic work is not to be missed. The film is paired with two new titles, smash-hit action-comedy Extreme Job (now the most successful film in Korean box office history) and touching indie drama Scattered Night. From one of the oldest to some of the newest films in our lineup, all demonstrate the very best that Korean cinema has to offer.
Aimless Bullet is Yu Hyun-mok’s most exemplary work and a key piece of Korean realist cinema. The film captures the collective anxiety of post-war Korea through clerk Cheol-ho and his family. A commercial failure upon its initial release, it was soon banned by the military government, finally receiving its due recognition when presented at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 1963. Since then, the film has gained legendary status in Korea as a classic awaiting rediscovery.
Cheol-ho and his family are trapped in the prison of a powerful, unyielding social structure. He is a tortured soul and often ends up wandering around the streets of Seoul late at night. We witness him singing the popular ballad Sa-ui Chan-mi (Praise of Death) to himself and this epitomises the feeling of self-hatred and hopelessness that has been central to Korean society since the Japanese occupation instituted a culture of domination and exploitation. Aimless Bullet is not simply an anti-war film; rather it extends to the wider context of human existence in all its chaotic glory.
Aimless Bullet screens at Belfast QFT on Tuesday 19th November at 6:20 pm
Remember Los Pollos Hermanos, the fast-food outlet in TV’s Breaking Bad that serves as a front for the Southwestern United States’ most lucrative methamphetamine distribution network? That idea is turned on its head in this action-comedy feature from director Lee Byeong-heon (What A Man Wants, 2018), as an incompetent and dysfunctional five-person police team takes over a run-down chicken shop in order to observe and infiltrate a drug syndicate’s headquarters across the road. When their special chicken recipe becomes a massive hit with the public, it is a case of stakeout meets takeout, as cooking and crime-busting get ever more confused, until this ensemble of misfits finally learns why they were put together in the first place, and why their leader Captain Ko (Ryu Seung-yong, Seven Years of Night, 2017) has the nickname ‘Zombie’. “There’s lots of absurdity in what we do,” says Ko – and when it comes to crazy laughs and over-the-top fighting, Extreme Job delivers to order.
Extreme Job screens at Belfast QFT on Wednesday 20th November at 6:20 pm
This brilliant dissection of a family in freefall grips like a vice. When Su-min (a remarkably nuanced debut from Moon Seunga) and her brother Jin-ho (Choi Junwoo) are told by their parents that they will soon divorce, they are given an impossible choice. Each can only live with one parent. They must decide for themselves who they would prefer. Resolutely optimistic, Su-min attempts to convince her parents to go on a family trip, believing that if they can put the pressure of work aside for just one weekend, they will see a future together and call off the divorce. Told with absolute honesty and compassion, Su-min’s young endearingly positive perspective collides with the unfathomable complexities, confusion, and cruelties of the adult world. This diamond-sharp minimalist gem joins the ranks of great films about childhood.
Scattered Night screens at Belfast QFT on Thursday 21st November at 6:20 pm
Stay tuned to Scannain for more news on film festivals near and far.