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파란만장 (Paranmanjang/Night Fishing, 2011)

This post is part of the Korean Cinema Blogathon 2012, which runs from March 5-11. Featuring the best of posts on Korean film from blogs around the web, the blogathon is hosted by CineAwesome this year and mirrored by New Korean CinemaVCinemaKOFFIAHangul Celluloid and Modern Korean Cinema.

With the home of the Korean Cultural Centre (KCCUK) being in London and hosting fantastic events such as this year’s weekly Year of Twelve Directors Korean film nights and the annual London Korean Film Festival, it can sometimes feel like that Korean cinema can only be experienced in the capital. But there is Korean cinema to be seen elsewhere too, it just takes a little bit of ‘keeping your eyes open’.

The BBC recently had 나무없는 산 (Namooeobsneun San/Treeless Mountain, 2008) on its film programme. 시 (Shi/Poetry, 2010) screened in Presteigne (Wales) at the Borderlines Film Festival and 황해 (Hwang-hae/The Yellow Sea, 2010) at the East Winds Festival in Coventry. Coming up next is 파란만장 (Paranmanjang/Night Fishing, 2011), which will be shown at the annual Flatpack Film Festival in Birmingham as part of feature entitled “Night Fishing + Other Twisted Folk Tales” (a triple bill of shorts, the other two, 灰土警部の事件簿人食山/Man-Eater Mountain and Lonesome Panther, both being Japanese) on March 17, 2012.

The festival programme describes Paranmanjang as follows:

Korean directors Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy, Thirst) and his brother Park Chan-Kyong’s thirty minute film, Night Fishing is somewhat of an anomaly and something we may see a lot more of in the not too distant future; a bloody good film shot using a camera-phone. What they’ve produced is a gloriously sumptuous, atmospheric chiller.

Indeed, Paranmanjang was so “bloody good” that it won the Golden Bear for Best Short Film at last year’s Berlin International Film Festival. More information about Paranmanjang and images from the film at hancinema.net.

Where else to find Korean films outside of London? Your best bet are film festivals – Wikipedia has a fairly comprehensive list for the UK. Try the Leeds International Film Festival, which is the largest British film festival outside of London and screened 무산일기 (Musanilgi/The Journals of Musan, 2011), three Park Chan Wook shorts and 황해 (Hwang-hae/The Yellow Sea) last year. Or the well-established Edinburgh International Film Festival, which had 파수꾼 (Pasuggun/Bleak Night, 2011) on its programme. Note: If you volunteer some of your time at film festivals, you can usually score some free tickets!

시 (Shi/Poetry, 2010)

The next thing to try are cinemas – not your closest Odeon, VUE or Apollo cinema, but your lovely local, independent film theatre. Talk to them – they might be open for suggestions. In London, it’s the ICA, the Princes Charles Cinema and the Tricycle that show a lot of love for foreign films, including Korean ones, elsewhere there are places like the Filmhouse (Edinburgh) or the Cornerhouse (Manchester), the latter of which has a whole backlog of Korean film screenings (and they have got a fab 1st floor café too). Most cinemas now have email lists or twitter feeds that will keep you informed about what’s on next.

Blogs with a world cinema focus (like CineAwesome and subtitled online.com) are a great source of information of where and when to find Korean films as well – that’s how I heard about the Birmingham screening of 파란만장 (Paranmanjang/Night Fishing) this morning.

If there is a university nearby, check if they have a film society. They may on occasion show films from Korea. Although membership is usually limited to students, screenings can sometimes be open to the public (e.g. some film societies allow non-student friends to be brought along, others may hold general-admittance events such as the East Winds Film Festival last weekend).

Last but not least, you can always set up your own film club and get DVDs through your local independent rental, or online (e.g third windows films, amazon.co.uk and yesasia.com are good starting points).