Korean Film Plug, Asano Programme, etc

Stephen Cremin asianfilmlibrary
Mon Apr 19 05:23:04 EDT 1999

On the subject of Korean film, I just want to give a little plug for 
my Korean programme in August which will again represent more than 
half of the films in this year's London Pan-Asian Film Festival.  The 
theme is female desire in Korean cinema, from "The Free Woman" (1956) 
to "The Affair" (1998).  The former was the first expression of female 
desire on screen at a time when kissing was forbidden; at the end of 
the film, the husband kicks his wife out after discovering her affair.  
The latter was a box office smash last year, also about a middle-class 
woman having an affair ... but 40 years on she walks out of the 
marriage through her own choice, and not to be with the man.  So, its 
that space I'm interested in: perhaps bringing in an example of the 
"Madame Aema" series of the 1970s, which was very much the Korean 
"Emmanuelle".  And, of course, female desire was the strong theme in 
last year's Korean films: "Bedroom & Courtroom", "Girls Night Out", 
"Birdcage Inn", etc.  I had a great success last year with the Kim Ki-
Young programme, which is very much about the fear of female 
sexuality, so I'll bring those back.  Much of Korean horror as a genre 
in film touches on this fear of the female, but I suspect thats true 
of several (South-East) Asian countries too.  There's also an actress 
I'm planning a retrospective on who fits this theme: she's never been 
recognised abroad and will apparently be good fun in London.  There 
will also be several lectures and panel discussions.  Laura Mulvey is 
apparently becoming interested in Korean film, so perhaps she'll write 
an article.  And I have someone else lined up for an article on 
"Female Desire vs Male Anxiety in Korean Film", a very strong theme 
among directors such as Jang Sun-Woo.  If anyone else wants to write 
something, let me know.

This may be the last London Pan-Asian Film Festival.  I'm thinking of 
going off to Korea for a few years.  I won't decide until later this 
year.  As some of you will be aware, there was an orchestrated attempt 
at sabotaging last year's festival - telephone calls made to guests 
and sales agents, pressure put on magazine editors, false rumours 
spread about my personal life - which we beat.  We could have leaked 
it to the press (as Popcorn Film Festival did in Sweden), but I wanted 
to beat my competition on the quality of programming.  The problem now 
is more financial.  Anyway, I've just returned from the Udine Festival 
in Italy and I think it is the best programme of Asian film now in 
Europe so I'm happy to let them emerge as the best festival for Asian 
film in Europe.

The Asano Tadanobu programme in June is going smoothly.  Guests 
include Asano and Ishii Katsuhito, director of "Shark Skin Man & Peach 
Hip Girl".  We'll hold a live "benshi" performance around the surreal, 
erotic manga adaptation "Nejishiki": I don't think a subtitled print 
would work anyway.  Bitters End have secured me a few dozen of the 
surreal wind-up toys made for the film, and the screening is as much 
about having an excuse to send those out to the press as anything 
else.  (Although I'm glad to see it made Mark Schilling's Best Ten.)  
Again, if anyone wants a ticket to the opening screening and party on 
3 June, let me know.  But if any KineJapan members are thinking of 
coming, I suggest they wait until August for the main week of 
premieres and Korean programme.

(Finally, Stephen Sarrazin's mention of a money order, doesn't refer 
to an illicit tape trade.  I'm buying the English-language rights to 
the fantastic Iwai Shunji interview he conducted in February this 
year.  Better than anything I've translated from the Japanese.)

Stephen Cremin
Director, London Pan-Asian Film Festival

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