It's all in good fun!

The Nine Lives of Korean Cinema (2005)

Director: Hubert Niogret

Tagline: Yes, I ate CHOCO PIES while watching this movie

I have a strong interest in the work of quite a few Korean directors and this documentary was the perfect way of finding more about them, or at least it would have been if it was better made. The problem is that they get the opinions of so many people that it becomes confusing as to who is saying what as they only put the captions for their names up once and then cut back to them.

I would have liked to hear more about director Shin Sang-ok being kidnapped by North Korea and being forced to make Pulgasari and other movies, but that part of the documentary seems to come across more as a series of anecdotes than anything else.

It was good to hear about the history of Korea and how the Japanese tried to wipe out Korean culture during their occupation. Also good was that nowadays 50% of the box office returns for Korean movies come from audiences in Japan.

There was more explained about the military dictatorship in Korea and censorship, but it is probably best if you find this information through other sources as they didn't really go into enough detail to tell the story properly.

I did like hearing from Korean directors such as Im Sang-soo, Bong Joon-ho, Kim Ki-duk and Park Chan-wook, but it was an embarrassment of riches in this case and none of them really had enough time to say anything in depth.

At the moment Korean cinema is very angry as Park Chan-wook explained, which he puts down to young men having to do military service when they are supposed to be enjoying their freedom after primary and secondary school. Im Sang-soo also relates that his film The President's Last Bang was censored by court order due to friends of the people involved still being in positions of power.

Also touched upon was the issue of the screen quota being abolished, Korea had a quota where cinemas were required to show 146 films made in Korea per year, but it was abolished due to a free trade agreement (sound familiar?) There was a protestor at the screening I attended, so people are still out there trying to oppose the abolition of the quota.

Rating: 6/10

This site is definitely not affilated with the Melbourne International Film Festival (DUH!) or the Melbourne Underground Film Festival.