Acclaimed Director Bong Joon-Ho Announced As Head of the International Jury at EIFF, Plus Focuses on Korea and Sweden
We are pleased to announce that renowned South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho will chair the International Feature Film Competition Jury at this year’s Festival.
Bong Joon-Ho, whose English-language debut, ‘Snowpiercer’, is expected later this year, came to international attention with his first feature ‘Barking Dogs Never Bite’ (2000). He won Best Director at the San Sebastian Film Festival for ‘Memories of Murder’ (2003) while ‘The Host’ (2006) and ‘Mother’ (2009) received much critical acclaim upon their premieres in the Director’s Fortnight and Un Certain Regard sections at Cannes.
Serving with him on the jury is actress Natalie Dormer and film critic Siobhan Synnot. Star of the hugely successful ‘Game of Thrones’, Dormer will be seen later this year in the highly anticipated ‘Rush’, directed by Ron Howard, and Ridley Scott’s ‘The Counselor’, written by Cormac McCarthy. Synnot is chief film writer for Scotland on Sunday and is an award-winning writer and broadcaster who regularly contributes to the BBC and STV, commenting on films and arts issues.
They will choose the winner of the Award for Best Film in the International Competition from a selection of films that highlight filmmaking from outside the UK that is imaginative, innovative and deserving of wider recognition. Last year’s winner was ‘Here, Then’ by first-time director Mao Mao.
This year’s Festival will also feature two country Focuses, showcasing work from Korea and Sweden. The Focuses will offer Festival audiences the opportunity to see UK premieres of the best recent work from those two countries.
EIFF Artistic Director Chris Fujiwara speaking in Cannes said: “It’s a huge honour for our Festival to have Bong Joon-ho, one of the greatest filmmakers, as the Chair of the jury of our International Feature Film Competition. We’re also honoured and delighted that he will be joined by Natalie Dormer, a brilliant and prolific performer, and Siobhan Synnot, one of Scotland’s leading voices for film culture.
“Our Focuses on Korea and Sweden are major components of EIFF’s programme this year. These are undoubtedly two of the most consistently interesting national cinemas, both with a great abundance of filmmaking talent. We have an outstanding selection of stimulating and challenging films from both countries and we’re very happy to be showcasing them.”
The Focus on Korea includes films ranging from the commercial mainstream to independent cinema that show the diversity and vitality of Korean film today. The espionage thriller ‘The Berlin File’ from master director Ryoo Seung Wan has been a box-office success and reveals the full strength of Korean action cinema. The domestic success of ‘Jiseul’, the debut from O Muel, is an equally good sign for arthouse films. The film, which recreates a massacre by Korean troops of alleged Communists in Jeju Island in 1948, is one of two films on historical tragedies; the other is ‘National Security’ by Chung Ji-young, which looks at the case of a pro-democracy activist in the 1980s who was tortured into making a false confession.
From director Shin Su-won, ‘Pluto’ is a dark and gripping story of how competition for top grades in an elite high school turns murderous. The imaginative hybrid of fiction and documentary ‘Virgin Forest’, which looks at themes of tradition, memory and the past, will be shown with two new shorts: ‘Homo Coreanicus’, an allegorical story about Korean society, and ‘Day Trip’, directed by Park Chan-wook (Old Boy, Stoker) in collaboration with his brother, Park Chan-kyong, which deals with the Korean traditional music form pansori.
The Focus on Korea is supported by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korean Film Council and the Korean Cultural Centre UK.
The Focus on Sweden includes feature films from contemporary mainstream and experimental filmmakers, a film by an old master from the silent era, and a selection of shorts. Beginning with a phone call from a long-lost lover, the experimental documentary ‘Belleville Baby’ from Mia Engberg is a true story of love that raises questions about identity, class and fate. ‘Call Girl’ by Mikael Marcimain tells the explosive story of underage prostitution amongst the Swedish elite in the 1970’s; while ‘Roland Hassel’ is the debut feature from director Måns Månsson, an intriguing hybrid of fiction and documentary that breathes new life into the 1980’s cult private detective character of Roland Hassel. Emerging Swedish director Karzan Kader was born in Kurdish Iraq; his film ‘Up & Away’ is a charming story about familial love as two brothers try to travel from Kurdistan to America to meet Superman. In ‘Sanctuary’, two fugitives, a father and daughter, abandon civilisation and escape into the wilderness. Fredrik Edfeldt’s second feature expresses powerful emotional undercurrents raging beneath a reflective world of beautiful, almost ethereal stillness.
An enchanting rediscovery from the first golden age of Swedish cinema, Mauritz Stiller’s 1919 film ‘Sir Arne’s Treasure’ is an exquisite masterpiece, which will be shown with live musical accompaniment. Finally, a seven-strong selection of some of the finest short-form cinema emerging from contemporary Sweden, presents the undercurrents bubbling fervently just beneath the surface of society.
The Focus on Sweden is supported by the Swedish Film Institute.
Download the press release here.