To celebrate the festive season, in what is a time for sharing, I am going to share with you the speech I delivered earlier this month at the 15th Sydney Film School Festival. The speech mentions trends currently apparent in the Korean industry, but also aimed to hopefully inspire the graduating students by comparing the school to conditions in Korea with KAFA. You can read more about the developments of the famous Korean film school which I previously discussed with SBS and Sandy George, or in more recent developments, an update from CJ E&M, CJ CGV and KAFA about their partnership. It is an intriguing filmmaking process that Australia should look closer at. Otherwise, Merry Christmas and I hope you enjoy the speech! Thanks again to Ira Keller, Ben Ferris and SFS.
"Good evening students, teachers, family and friends. I would first like to thank Sydney Film School for offering the Korean Cultural Office and myself to take part in today’s proceedings. I am speaking today on behalf of my Director Kim Young-soo, who is currently very busy preparing for the Closing Performance of the Australia-Korea Year of Friendship, which takes place this Friday. I have personally attended a number of Sydney Film School Festivals before which focused on other national cinemas, and I always wondered when would be the day that Korea cinema was the main event. Well today is that today and I am delighted to be standing here before you. (See the International Perspectives program on Korea here)
2011 has been deemed the Australia-Korea Year of Friendship, celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations between the 2 countries. In what has been a landmark year for cultural exchange between Australia and Korea, the most significant achievement has been the opening of the Korean Cultural Office in the heart of Sydney this April. Our office is the hub of all things Korean, and aims to strengthen our cultural ties through the arts. A key element of this is film. In just 2 years of the KOFFIA Korean Film Festival in Australia (which we previously ran out of the Korean Consulate), and 1 season of Cinema on the Park (a free weekly film night at the Korean Cultural Office), around 6,000 people have experienced Korean film down-under. With major successes at international film festivals and several worldwide hits, Korean cinema’s popularity is ever increasing.
All Graduating Students of 15th SFS Festival
This year a new trend has emerged, seeing several leading Korean directors’ work outside of Korea for the first time. Park Chan-wook’s new film will star Australia's own Nicole Kidman and Jacki Weaver, and his seminal gangster flick ‘Old Boy’, which won the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, will soon be remade by Spike Lee. Kim Ji-woon is currently filming with Arnold Schwarzenegger in his return to the silver screen, Hong Sang-soo is making films with Isabelle Huppert, and a special guest of our film festival this year, action director Ryoo Seung-wan, is making a film set and filmed entirely in Berlin. And that is just a few examples. Not to mention, earlier this year, art-house legend Kim Ki-duk became the 1st ever Korean director to win awards at 3 major festivals, namely Venice, Berlin and Cannes. Korean cinema today has become a truly global brand, but just as important, is where this talent came from.
Partnership between KCO and SFS
The short film you are about to watch was produced in 2007 at KAFA Korean Academy of Film Arts, which plays a major role in educating and preparing filmmakers for work in the Korean film industry. Now in its 28th year, the school has garnered a great reputation after several talented graduands went on to lead the Korean film renaissance. Bong Joon-ho (director of ‘Mother’, the opening film of KOFFIA 2010), and Kim Tae-kyun (director of ‘A Barefoot Dream’, the closing film of KOFFIA 2011) are just 2 such examples. Producing more than 500 graduates with around 100 going on to make a feature film (an amazing statistic of almost 20%), the vast majority work in the industry today.
Some of the successful films of the KAFA and CJ Partnership
The school has in recent years even geared towards producing feature films, with examples being ‘End of Animal’ which screened at this year’s Sydney Film Festival, and ‘Bleak Night’ which received an honourable mention for Best Screenplay at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards on the Gold Coast last month. KAFA’s educational goal is ‘education through creation’, one I highly recommend you take on board. As current and graduating students of Sydney Film School, you have just as much energy, creativity and passion for cinema as those students at KAFA, and with a bit of hard work I believe you can invigorate the industry you go on to work in.
The wonderful Young-gil's Angels
As I said, I looked out for the day Korea was featured here at the film school, and I am delighted to present tonight’s film ‘Young-gil’s Angels’. Directed by Lee Ho-kyung, it encapsulates Korean cinema with its intense drama and emotion, with themes of culture, friendship and tradition. Just a simple story about regular school girls and a high school wrestling team, 'Young-gil's Angels' emphasises the multi-mood’s Korean cinema has become known for. As a filmmaker and screen culture enthusiast myself, I must pass on an important piece of advice one of my lecturers old told me. Continue making films. Continue watching films. Embrace as much of screen culture as you possibly can, scouring for films from diverse regions, from Europe to Africa, the Americas to Asia, and even Korea. The more you know about the medium, the more likely chance you have of mastering it.
KCO supporting local filmmakers
Finally, I would like to congratulate all of the students who are finishing this year, and wish you all the best for your future careers. The Korean Cultural Office is delighted to be sponsoring the prizes for this year’s event, which include tickets to our 2012 KOFFIA Korean Film Festival and also tickets to our Young Filmmakers Short Film event. We hope the chances these prizes provide will both inspire and release your own creativity. Thank you, and please enjoy ‘Young-gil’s Angels’."
See more about the festival here, including a feature on Key Note speaker, Paul cox.
By Kieran Tully