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Seoul indie film festival stresses growing role of female creators

The 45th Seoul Independent Film Festival touted “shift” as the slogan for this year’s event, stressing important changes in the film scene, such as the growing contributions of female filmmakers.

“Since last year, the working environments of female filmmakers have improved greatly, as did the demand for their work. I expect such changes to affect the Korean film industry as a whole,” said festival director Kim Dong-hyun, during a press conference Tuesday. She noted that 42 percent of works submitted for the festival had been made by female directors.

This year’s Independent Film Festival is the biggest in its history, with 118 films to be shown at three theaters in Seoul -- CGV Arthouse Apgujeong, Indie Space and Seoul Art Cinema -- from Nov. 28 until Dec. 6. A total of 33 films are in competition for prize money totaling 80 million won ($69,000).


Kicking off the festival will be “Fukuoka,” directed by Korean Chinese director Zhang Lu, whose arthouse works include “Desert Dream,” “Dooman River,” Scenery” and “Gyeongju.” It stars Kwon Hae-hyo, Yoon Je-moon and Park So-dam, who appeared in this year’s Palme d’Or-winning “Parasite” by Bong Joon-ho.

“Fukuoka,” which was invited as the opening film of the Fukuoka International Film festival this year, features two former best friends estranged over a woman in college and their reunion after 20 years in the Japanese city.

“Why they travel is not clear. ... The key is to constantly wonder and think about their journey,” said Kim.

“Looking back, it’s a film that gives me a lot to think about. I felt there was a lot of difference between what’s in the script and what actually goes on during shooting. And there is a lot of improvised moments from Yoon, Park and other actors,” Kwon said.

Poster for 45th Seoul Independent Film Festival (SIFF)
Poster for 45th Seoul Independent Film Festival (SIFF)

The veteran actor was co-host of this year’s press conference with seasoned actress Moon So-ri, who is one of eight judges for the festival.

“Among the best things about being a judge at a film festival is that I get to enjoy a lot of important movies,” Moon said. “There were so many impressive works that were submitted this year.”

As did many other film festivals in Korea this year, the 45th Seoul Independent Film Festival will hold programs to commemorate a century of Korean cinema. This includes the screening of restored 1976 documentary “Seoul 7000” and a remastered version of Bong Joon-ho’s short “Incoherence,” one of his earliest works, dating to 1994.

For more information on the festival, visit the festival’s homepage at

By Yoon Min-sik