Category Archives: Korean events in São Paulo

São Paulo’s International Film Fest brings Korean flicks

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There’s been quite a lack of Korean movies this year, so I was quite excited when it was time for São Paulo’s International Film Festival to start, since they always screen some flicks made in South Korea. Lee Sang-woo’s fictional work Barbie (2011), Tae Jun-seek’s documentary Mother (2011) and Lee Dae-hee’s animation Padak (2012) were the chosen ones and I’m really looking forward to see them all.

The best thing about this selection is the variety; I’ve never seen a Korean documentary before and this is as good an opportunity as any other. And they’ll be screened quite a few times each, which increases my chances of being able to catch all three. If you’re in the area, be sure to go watch one (or all) of them! Movie times here.

Last year I got to watch the four Korean movies being shown and then talked a bit about it here. Click to see how things went down!

A (very) late 2011 recap, part 2: Hyung Min-woo and Park Sang-sun in Brazil

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I know K-pop is everywhere and that everybody is always going on about it, but despite all the music-related events that took place here in Brazil this past year, the highlight of my 2011 was, hands down, Hyung Min-woo and Park Sang-sun’s visit in November. They were here for FIQ, an international comic book festival that was honouring South Korea’s production in this area.

Overview

Exhibition of drawings from many different manhwas

At first, Park Sang-sun would be joined for Chon Kye-young, but the latter ended up not coming. Hyung Min-woo was chosen, then, and, well, I couldn’t be happier, since I’m much more into his work. Besides having the two manhwa artists participating in a discussion panel, the event held a pretty interesting exhibition with lots of drawings taken from manhwas like Tarot Café, Girl in heels and, of course, Priest.

Facsimile of a page from Tarot Café

Hyung Min-woo’s illustrations for Priest

The discussion panel was a bit empty. It was the last event on a Saturday night, so it was definitely not going to be too crowded. Two other guests were also present: two representatives from Komacon, a Korean agency that focuses on bringing exposure to manhwas all over the world. One of them had took part, earlier, in a sort of portfolio appraisal and talked a bit about how, despite drawing really well, most of those who had brought him their portfolios were heavily influenced by the American aesthetic and that he thought they should bring a bit of the culture to their work.

Tickets for the panel and sign announcing the event

Participants of the panel (the lady in red is the translator)

One other thing that caught my attention was that Park Sang-sun admitted to not knowing London, the place where all the action in Tarot Café unfolds. She explained that the city that she shows in her manhwa is the London that exists in her imagination. Slightly odd, but if it works in the comic books, then it’s all good, right?

Hyung Min-woo

Park Sang-sun

Both artists talked about how they got started in this (HMW started drawing on floors and walls, and became a pro when he was 20; PSS got interested because her parents bought her and her siblings lots of books with paintings) and discussed the connection between Asian comic books and the cinema (it’s becoming a trend, according to them). They were also both asked if Brazil had brought them an inspiration so far and answered that this sometimes happens after you go back home (HMW) and that the beautiful spirit of the people was an inspiration (PSS).

I also asked them if they see their work as a way of making Korea or the Korean culture more known all over the world. Park Sang-sun said that this is an ambition of hers. “If it wasn’t, why would I travel 40 hours to get to Brazil? I think it’s universal, this desire to know how people live in another place and know more about their culture”, she added.  Hyung Min-woo, on the other hand, says he thinks the most important thing is the story you want to tell, even if it has nothing to do with the culture or the country. “Inserting cultural aspects in a story has to happen in a natural way and I try to make the best comic book I can, without focusing on anything else”, he told us.

And that was it! My question was the last one and my brother filmed it for me, but I haven’t put any English subtitles. I’ll try to do that as soon as possible, I promise!

Anyway, it was an amazing event and the panel was really good. It was great being able to see two extraordinary manhwa artists, something I thought would be quite impossible to happen in Brazil. And, of course, my brother and I had to take pictures with them. Not that anyone cares for those, but I’ll post them anyway! 😉

Made in Korea, screened in Brazil: a brief review of São Paulo International Film Festival

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The São Paulo International Film Festival ended last weekend and I’m glad to say that I managed to see all four Korean movies being shown, yay! I was afraid of not being able to see The Yellow Sea because the movie got stuck in Customs when entering Brazil, but things were sorted out and the organization scheduled three sessions so no one would be disappointed. Wanna know how it all went down? Well, I’m more than glad to share the experience with you all*!

It was the first time that I selected movies with such a specific end in mind. I usually go watch something because I like what I know of the plot or because I’m interested in the director or actor, so it was definitely interesting choosing only the Korean flicks to watch. It was like a second Korean Film Festival (read more about it here), albeit a much smaller one.

I started my “odissey” with Dance Town (댄스 타운), the third in Jeon Kyu-hwan’s trilogy of city tales (the other two are Mozart Town and Animal Town, both of which I wasn’t aware of). It shows Lee Jung-nim, a North Korean middle class woman, who defects to South Korea after being accused of watching a porn movie. In Seoul, she’s given an apartment by the government, finds a job and awaits news of her husband, who wasn’t able to go with her. It was a good start and I enjoyed the acting, but there was a sub-plot with a teenage girl which was quite unnecessary and didn’t really seem to fit or to flow well with the main story. Overall, though, it was quite good.

The second one in the queue was Haunters (초능력자), a pretty cool action flick. It revolves around a young man that can control people within his eyesight. One day, while trying to rob a pawn shop, he meets this other guy who is unfazed by his power. From this moment on, of course they get into a sort of cat and mouse game that will end badly for one of them. The action scenes were pretty good and the actors delivered good enough performances. Now, it is not perfect and there are many flaws and situations that are left unexplained, but it was highly enjoyable. My only big complaint is about the ending, which sucked big time and was very disappointing. Besides, it didn’t really seem like a likely sequence for what the director was doing ’til then, you know? The final minutes caught me unawares and left me very disappointed. But, as I said, it was great fun and I’d recommend it.

Then came The day he arrives (북촌방향), a black and white feature that shows a movie director on a quick visit to Seoul, looking for a friend and then going out with him and friends. As the days go by, things seem to repeat themselves and there’s this sort of annoying lack of real action that impregnates every single second of the movie. I read a review that said that it shows well how repetitive our daily lives are and how it is a good portrait of times when we think we’re going forward but, in fact, we’re walking on the same spot or, even worse, backwards, and it was like that for me, at least.

The last one was The Yellow Sea (황해), another action movie that left me quite depressed.The screening I attended happened after a long and tiring day and it was totally worth it! I must admit I still prefer The Chaser (추격자) – a movie by the same director and with the same main actors -, but this one was every bit as exhilarating as the former and barely lets you catch a breath. It was also quite fun to see Ha Jung-woo and Kim Yoon-suk sort of reverse the roles they played in The Chaser. The plot revolves around a taxi driver that lives in the China-North Korea border and is neck-deep in gambling debts. His wife went to Seoul to work and get money but hasn’t contacted him ever since, leaving him to pay for the money necessary for this, too. So, desperate, he accepts a job offer from a local gangster: he has to go to Seoul and kill a man. Obviously, this cannot turn out well and you already know that tense moments will follow.

The audiences for these movies were reasonably large, I’d say. Dance Town and The day he arrives were the ones in which people were more respectful, I guess. One thing that really annoys me is when something a bit absurd happens onscreen and the whole cinema comes down laughing. That happened a lot when I watched Lady Revenge and, let’s face it, that is not a light movie. It happened a bit in The Yellow Sea, too, as a result of the combination of the over the top action sequences (and I mean that in a good way, I loved them all) and the leading character’s resilience.

All in all, I thouroughly enjoyed all movies. It’s not like we have many chances to watch Korean films in Brazilian cinemas, so it was definitely a great opportunity!

* Please, keep in mind I’m not a film critic, I’m just expressing my personal and amateuristic views of what I watched! And click on the names to check more lenghty synopsises (this word looks really odd in the plural).



Check out more posts from this collaboration HERE.
Check out the other collaborators’ blogs here.
Check out The Korea Blog!

São Paulo International Film Festival screens Korean movies

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Every year, the São Paulo International Film Festival screens hundreds of movies from all over the world in the ten days or so that it lasts. For serious movie lovers, it is a marathon; some even take leave from work during the event, in order to attend as many sessions as possible in one day.


The Yellow Sea

This year, four Korean movies are being screened: Dance Town (댄스 타운),  The day he arrives (북촌방향), Haunters (초능력자) and The Yellow Sea (황해). As usual, they’re being shown sometimes at ridiculous times, like 2.30 pm. I mean, I wish I could leave work in the early afternoon to go watch a movie, but, somehow, I don’t think my boss would approve of that.


Dance Town

Anyway, I already watched Dance Town in a session last weekend and quite enjoyed it. The cinema was almost empty, though. Not a lot of people interested in the plot, maybe? The session took place in a cinema not close to Paulista Avenue and its surroundings, the area where most of the movies are screened, so I guess folks just prefer keeping to there in order to catch more sessions, more movies.


Haunters

A bad piece of news for those wanting to watch all four Korean movies: the copy of The Yellow Sea is stuck on Customs and couldn’t be exhibited so far. How depressing is this? That was the movie I wanted to watch the most and my country won’t clear its entrance. Way to go, right?


The day he arrives

For more information and schedules, check www.mostra.org.

Movies being screened and directors: Dance Town (댄스 타운), directed by Jeon Kyu-hwan (전규환); The day he arrives (북촌방향), directed by Hong Sang-soo (홍상수); Haunters (초능력자), directed by Kim Min-suk(김민석) – who co-wrote The good, the bad and the weird (좋은 놈, 나쁜 놈, 이상한 놈) -; and The Yellow Sea (황해), directed by Na Hong-jin (나홍진).


Check out more posts from this collaboration HERE.
Check out the other collaborators’ blogs here.
Check out The Korea Blog!

Korea, rampant cinema – the revenge thriller

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For someone who got to know Korean cinema for the first time many, many years ago through Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy, this second edition of CCSP’s Korean film festival (15-30 July) was an amazing event. The main focus was on revenge thrillers, so they couldn’t let The Vengeance Trilogy out, could they? But since not everything is about revenge, the festival also focused on movies that hit it big at the box office and presented a retrospective of one other well-known director, Kim Ji-woon. The selction was indeed varied, so the movie-goers could watch Im Kwon-taek’s 천년학 (Beyond the years), about a family of 판소리 (pansori) performers, in a day and 검은집 (Black House), a slasher film, on the other. There were three sessions a day and since they tried to preserve the same mood by choosing similar-themed films, it was not hard at all to sit through all three of them in a row.

The selection

I tried to watch everything and almost accomplished that – out of 21 movies, I just couldn’t watch two, one of which I had previously seen. That made for a few great surprises, a couple disasters and a lot of back ache (really, those seats are horrible and sooo noisy; I had to be really careful everytime I needed to move an inch), but I came out of it much more interested in Korean cinema than I was before.

복수는 나의 것 (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance), Park Chan-wook, 2002

올드보이 (Oldboy), Park Chan-wook, 2003

친절한 금자씨 (Sympathy for Lady Vengeance), Park Chan-wook, 2005

Apart from The Vengeance Trilogy and 마더 (Mother), which I already loved and had to re-watch, my favourite movie was 추격자 (The Chaser), a 2008 film by Na Hong-jin with Ha Jeong-woo (who could also be seen on 국가대표 – Take off and 멋진 하루 – My dear enemy). And that is a lot to say, because there were lots of problems with the subtitles, which were coming a minute late at first, and, then, about halfway through, simply disappeared. So I understood the story and the events and everything else, but I have no idea what the people on the screen was talking about. But even without no subs, the acting and the direction were so good that I didn’t miss the details so much.

추격자 (The Chaser), Na Hong-jin, 2008

아저씨 (The Man from Nowhere), Lee Jeong-beom, 2010

One thing I truly loved is that they grouped Won Bin’s movies, so 아저씨 (The Man From Nowhere) came first and, then, 마더 (Mother), so you could really appreciate his two very different performances. Of course, Kim Hye-ja is the best thing in this last film and even though I already knew how everything would end, I couldn’t help but suffer all over again with her.

마더 (Mother), Bong Joon-ho, 2009

The audience

As far as I could see, most people that attended this festival were Korean or maybe Korean-Brazilian. I can’t tell for sure, though, because all movies were shown twice and, well, I didn’t have time to go watch my favourites for a second time (I probably would’ve done it were it not for my work). But lots and lots of old ladies were there and, in the weekend sessions, lots of young people, too.

People queue before watching Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

Looooonnng queue!

The last couple days had the most crowded sessions*. They were showing The Vengeance Trilogy on Friday and maybe that drew people’s attention and interest, which is usually great. In this case, however, I was a little bit bothered by how everybody seemed to think every little scene was soooo funny. Maybe I take films too seriously, but I find these three movies especially oppressive and, well, that doesn’t sit well with hearty laughs, does it?

Actually, it was a bit like that in many, many movies, so I got slightly pissed many, many times, but I’m sort of annoying when it comes to watching anything, so maybe this is just my cranky side showing.

All in all, it was quite excellent, besides being a unique opportunity, since most of these Korean films did not come to Brazilian cinemas. I do want to talk a bit more about a few of them, but I’ll do this later and on separate posts.

* one of the most crowded days I attended; as I said, I didn’t go there every single day.

** I took the first photo, as well as the two showing the queue. The others were found all over the Internet.

edit: since I haven’t mentioned every single film exhibited, I decided to put up the list here. check it out:

– 천년학 (Beyond the years), Im Kwon-taek, 2007
– 춘향뎐 (Chunhyang), Im Kwon-taek, 2000
– 베스트셀러 (Best seller), Lee Jeong-ho, 2010
– 좋은 놈, 나쁜 놈, 이상한 놈 (The good, the bad and the weird), Kim Ji-woon, 2008
– 장화,홍련, (A tale of two sisters), Kim Ji-woon, 2003
– 달콤한 인생 (A bittersweet life), Kim Ji-woon, 2005
– 추격자 (The chaser), Na Hong-jin, 2008
– 검은집 (Black House), Shin Tae-ra, 2007
– 7급 공무원 (My girlfriend is an agent), Shin Tae-ra, 2009
– 국가대표 (Take off), Kim Yong-hwa, 2009
– 과속스캔들 (Scandal makers), Kang Hyung-chul, 2008
– 해피 엔드 (Happy End), Jung Ji-woo, 1999
– 우리 생애 최고의 순간 (Forever the moment), Im Soon-rye, 2008
– 복수는 나의 것 (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance), Park Chan-wook, 2002
– 올드보이 (Oldboy), Park Chan-wook, 2003
– 친절한 금자씨 (Sympathy for Lady Vengeance), Park Chan-wook, 2005
– 박쥐 (Thirst), Park Chan-wook, 2009
– 멋진 하루 (My dear enemy), Lee Yoon-ki, 2010
– 마더 (Mother), Bong Joon-ho, 2009
– 아저씨 (The man from nowhere), Lee Jeong-beom, 2010
– 맨발의 꿈 (A barefoot dream), Kim Tae-gyun, 2011


Check out more posts from this collaboration HERE.
Check out the other collaborators’ blogs here.
Check out The Korea Blog!

VI Festival of Korean Culture (São Paulo) – part 3

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Finally, the last part is here! I’ll be honest and say that my stalling this time had more to do with the fact that I’m not thaaat into K-pop and, therefore, don’t feel I’m all that qualified to say anything about cover bands. That and I also lost the program, so I don’t really know the names of most bands that performed. =(

Anyway, I really wanna talk about that movie festival and about some books I’ve read recently, so I just figured it’d be best to get this out of my way as soon as possible.

There’s no denying that most of the youngsters that attended this festival were there because of the K-pop attractions. Besides the presentations in the main stage, there was also a smaller stage, so instead of watching some of the traditional acts, teens could be sort of immersed in Korean pop music all day long.

The picture below was taken in the last day of the festival, around 7 o’clock, I guess. It was definitely crowded and people were having a lot of fun watching the groups.

In general, I enjoyed what I saw, but you could really tell they were amateur groups. It was the same thing in every presentation: some of the dancers were quite good, but others were not so much and there were even a few that didn’t even seem to be enjoying themselves, something that I think is essential when it comes to performing, since most audiences do notice when you’re not really into what you’re doing. But K-pop fans seem to be absolutely enthusiastic, and just hearing songs they love and seeing the choreographies that they know so well from music videos and videos of live presentations was enough, especially because Brazil doesn’t receive any K-pop concerts. Actually, much more fun than watching the groups was watching the audience’s reactions. They would cheer, scream and sing all at once, and it was definitely an amusing sight.

A couple girls from my class are in a group called Kolors and they performed a few songs and it was nice seeing them, even if I did not know some (most?) of the repertoire. The two of them are actually good dancers, so I definitely enjoyed the show they put on.

Now for the pictures… well, I’m stll coming to terms with everything my camera can and can’t do when it comes to taking photos of things that move, so these came out horrible, but they serve work just fine to show a bit of what happened.

Enjoy!


Check out more posts from this collaboration HERE.
Check out the other collaborators’ blogs here.
Check out The Korea Blog!