Im Kwon-taek 1

The KCCUK is once again organising Korean films nights on (at least) a fortnightly basis throughout 2015. While details about the programme and frequency of showings are still scarce, it has been announced that the focus, once again, will be on directors – 2012 already saw a “Year of Directors”, followed by a “Year of Actors” (2013) and a “Year of Film Professionals” (2014). 

I’m rather pleased by this choice, as the previous Year of Directors was definitely my favourite Korean Film Night series, in part because it introduced me to some intriguing filmmakers I had previously never heard of, and, for another part, because the diversity of films on offers – really something for everyone – just felt a lot greater (the weekly screenings vs. the fortnightly ones in subsequent years probably had to do with this).

First up on the programme is veteran filmmaker Im Kwon-taek, who actually featured in the 2012 Year of Directors as well, back then with an extended programme as part of a BFI/ICA retrospective. However, with more than a hundred films to his name, there is always another Im Kwon-taek project to show. The KCCUK is starting with 왕십리 (Wangsimni/My Hometown aka A Bygone Romance, 1976) on January 15th. As always, the screening is free but seat booking is required (you can do so here).

Synopsis:

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Jun-tae has been away from his hometown, Wangsimni, for 14 years. He returns from a self-exile abroad and visits the places he used to know, including an old billiard hall. He finds old acquaintances and friends, and also remembers Jeong-hui, a girl he had feelings for. The others however discourage him from seeking out Jeong-hui – too much has changed in Wangsamni over the many years.

Bonus Bits:

  • A review of the film on Darcy Paquet’s koreanfilm.org website (review by Jiro Hong).
  • In the past, directors have been invited for a Q&A as part of the Korean Film Nights. I doubt we’ll be getting to meet Im Kwon-taek, as he already didn’t join us for the closing night gala of the 9th Korean Film Festival, when his most recent film, 화장 (Hwayang/Revivre, 2014), was shown.
  • For those not in London: Wangsamni apparently does not screen all too often and is not available on the YouTube channel of the Korean Film Archive at the moment (although eight other Im Kwon-taek films are). However, the Korean Film Archive seems to offer a DVD collection for purchase that features four Im Kwon-taek films from the 1970s, including Wangsamni.