arts, cinemas, culture, What's On

Korean Film Festival 2018

The Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) is proud to be returning down-under in 2018, bringing with it a line-up of exquisite new Korean films, from across all genres. Taking place in Melbourne from 6 to 13 September with whopping 22 films on offer.

Presented by the Korean Cultural Centre Australia, KOFFIA showcases the very best of Korean culture through film. From big-budget blockbusters to intimate art-house flicks, the Festival presents a packed program of world-class cinema, plucked straight out of Korea’s booming film industry – Hallyuwood.

KOFFIA DirectorDavid Park, says, “The past year for Korean cinema has been one of the best and most accomplished in recent memory – making this a very, very special year for the Festival. With such an enormous range, audiences are able to pick out a film for whatever tickles their fancy: a comedy, a thriller, a horror, a drama – you name it!”

KOFFIA is a cinematic experience for people of all tastes, ages and cultural backgrounds. As such, every film presented at theFestival screens with English subtitles.

Your chance to win 1 x double pass on us here.

Opening the Festival in each city is the feel-good flick Little Forest. Starring Kim Tae-ri (The Handmaiden), the film follows a young woman as she leaves the big city behind and returns to her country hometown, reuniting with childhood friends. Cosy, relaxing and satisfying, Little Forest will have audiences yearning for the simple life.  

The closing night film is the poignant and lively Korean art-house smash Microhabitat. Winner of the CGV Arthouse Award at 2017 Busan International Film Festival, Microhabitat is the directorial debut of Jeon Go-woon and follows aging housekeeper Mi-so. To Mi-so as long as she can afford her three greatest pleasures – whisky, cigarettes and her boyfriend – she’ll be happy. But when her landlord raises the rent, and the cost of cigarettes increases, she decides to ditch the roof over her head and journey through Seoul to reconnect with her old college friends and crash on their couches.

Microhabitat’s Jeon Go-woon (Director), Ahn Jae-hong (Actor) and Kim Soon-mo (Producer) will be guests of the Festival for the Sydney screening and will hold a Q&A following the film’s screening.

Hallyuwood and Hollywood come together in A Taxi Driver, which was selected as South Korea’s pick for the Foreign-Language category at the 2018 Academy Awards. Based off the real-life Gwangju Uprising of 1980, the film stars Kang-ho Song (Snowpiercer) as he drives a German journalist from Seoul to Gwangju city in the middle of a political uprising. The filmis a richly imagined tribute to a Korean working-class hero.

In the moving dramedy, Keys to the Heart, Lee Byung-hun (The Magnificent Seven) and Park Jung-mun enter each other’s lives when they discover they’re half-brothers.

For those who love a bit of a thrill, there is 7 Years of Night, which follows a man as he struggles to cope with his guilt and paranoia after accidentally killing a young woman; Golden Slumber explores the danger of mass media sensationalism and public witch-hunts as an everyman’s peaceful life is turned upside down when a black ops organisation frames him for the murder of a presidential candidate.

In Forgotten, a twisty violent tale of amnesia and murder unfolds as man investigates his brother’s strange disappearance after he reappears with no memory of it. Forgotten Director Chang Hang-jun and Producer Jang Won-seok will be guests of the Festival and present a Q&A following the film’s screening in Sydney.

In a directorial debut from Lee Chang-hee, The Vanished is a stylish psychological thriller that draws on Alfred Hitchcock and classic European Noir, as the body of a powerful businesswoman vanishes from the morgue and her trophy-husband becomes the key suspect.

For something more reserved, but still with a dramatic punch, A Haunting Hitchhike is the debut feature from Jeong Heejae – following the lonely, but hopeful, journey of one teenage girl seeking out her long-lost mother. The film won Jeong the special Audience Award at the Seoul International Women’s Film Festival.

In the spirit of Groundhog Day (1993), A Day is about a surgeon who returns home, eager to reconnect with his teenage daughter, only to find her killed by a taxi when he arrives. His nightmare worsens when he wakes up on the plane again and realises he must re-live the traumatic morning over and over again.

Addressing the issues of mixed-identity and connecting with your roots, Champion follows a lonely and unfilled former arm-wrestler as he returns to Korea from the United States to resume his sports career and search for his biological family.

In Last Child, a grieving couple mourn the tragic loss of their son after he drowned in a river saving his friend. The boy’s father takes an interest in his son’s friend, and his wife embraces him into their family. But the boy hasn’t told them the truth on what happened that day at the river. Similarly, in Mothers, a woman must take in her deceased husband’s teenage son from another marriage. Hesitant and unable to connect with him, the film explores complex relationships and family ties.

Stand by Me is a heart-warming story of a grandfather as he struggles to support his grandchildren, in their parents’ absence. Realising his time is short, and that his grandchildren can’t support themselves yet, he prepares a present for them that may be the very last thing he can give.

Those who love gritty crime dramas won’t be disappointed with Believer, about a troubled and obsessed detective hell-bent on arresting the main crime lord of Asia’s largest drug cartel. When a lab explosion wipes out most of the kingpin’s higher-ups, the lone survivor decides to help take the boss down for good. This gritty crime epic is a remake of Johnnie To’s 2012 award winning hit film Drug War.

I Can Speak is a delightful story of an unlikely friendship between a young, eager-to-please civil servant Min-jae and an elderly lady, nicknamed ‘Goblin Granny’. Terrorizing Min-jae daily, Goblin Granny strikes up a deal with him. When she learns he speaks English: she’ll stop the complaints in exchange for English lessons, so she can reconnect with her long-lost brother in America. I Can Speak is a lighthearted Korean comedy that packs a political punch.

What a Man Wants is a delicious dramedy exploring the taboos of infidelity. A habitual womaniser falls into a deep depression when his wife suddenly dies; his brother-in-law is miserable in his own marriage and finds his eyes wandering on an enchanting stranger. Things get messy when his wife hires her as to be the housekeeper for her womanising brother’s.

An absurd game of cat-and-mouse ensues between seven men when a misunderstanding during an assassination plot goes awry in Snatch Up. Part crime thriller part black comedy The Snatch Up is a laugh out loud look at the entwined destinies of seven men trying to get ahead in life.

Midnight Runners resembles buddy-cop favourites like 21 Jump Street (2012) and Police Academy (1984), but with an exciting and dark twist. A slow-witted jock and shy bookworm become best-friends during their time at Police University and, after witnessing a woman being kidnapped on a night out, the pair launch their own investigation.

Injecting some new life into the found-footage genre is Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum, which follows a team exploring an allegedly haunted asylum for a YouTube horror web-series. Unbeknownst to the team, the leader has staged a hoax to boost the video’s views – but when the scares veer off-script, they realise legitimate supernatural forces may be at work. 

The pretty and peculiar, Glass Garden, follows a brilliant Ph.D. student with a gift for communicating with nature as she goes deep into the forest after a heartbreak. She gets the attention of a novelist, whom she fascinates. However, he soon realises something mysterious is happening. Glass Garden is a pretty, peculiar fable that promises a compelling viewing experience.

Be with You is a love story that blends the perfect amount of warmth and melancholic sadness together. A grieving widower struggles to cope with the loss of his wife, alongside his devastated son, who firmly believes his mother will return during the rainy season, as said in his favourite fairy-tale. When she does return, the boys try to rebuild her memories and spend the rest of the season fearing what will happen to her when it ends.

When: 6~ 13 September 2018
Where: ACMI
More info: here.