LKFF & K-Animation Season Review: 메밀 꽃 필 무렵, 운수좋은 날, 그리고 봄봄 (Memilggot Pil Mulyeob, Woonsoo Joheun Nal, Geurigo Bombom/The Road Called Life) and Some Reflections on the Slump in Korean Animation

RCL 1

Year: 2013
Country:
South Korea
Language: Korean
Director: Ahn Jae-hun, Han Hye-jin
Producer:  Lee Sang-Wook
Studio: Studio Meditation with a Pencil
Adaptation from: Yi Hyo-seok’s 메밀꽃 필 무렵 (Buckwheat Season); Kim Yu-jeong’s 그리고 봄봄 (Spring, Spring) and Hyeon Jin-geon’s 운수 좋은 날 (A Lucky Day)
Screenplay: Ahn Jae-hun
Art Direction: N/a
Animation Direction: N/a
Soundscore: N/a
Cast: Eom Sang-hyun, Jang Kwang, Ryoo Hyeon-kyeong, Park Young-jae, Lee Jong-hyeok, Jeon Hye-yeong, Kang Eun-tak
Runtime: 90 min
Distribution: N/a
Film’s official website: N/a

Trailer:

This film is part of the K-Animation Season at Otherwhere. Seen at the 9th London Korean Film Festival. Special thanks to the KCCUK for providing me with a press ticket.

In 2011 Ahn Jae-hun and Han Hye-jin released their first feature-length animation, 소중한 날의 꿈 (Soljonghang Naluiggoom/Green Days), after eleven years of hard work. While it failed spectacularly at the box office, the reviews were largely positive, adding yet another work to the recently more active list of Korean animations. With The Road Called Life the team returned to making shorts, offering up an omnibus of three parts (each around 30 minutes long), all adapted from well-known traditional Korean tales set in different eras (1920s, 1940s and 1960s respectively). Continue reading “LKFF & K-Animation Season Review: 메밀 꽃 필 무렵, 운수좋은 날, 그리고 봄봄 (Memilggot Pil Mulyeob, Woonsoo Joheun Nal, Geurigo Bombom/The Road Called Life) and Some Reflections on the Slump in Korean Animation”

LFF Review: 우리별 일호와 얼룩소 (Wooribyeol Ilhowa Eolrukso/Satellite Girl and Milk Cow)

satellite girl 2 Year: 2013
Country: South Korea
Language: Korean
Director: Jang Hyung-yoon (sometimes written Chang Hyung-yun)
Studio:
Nowornever
Screenplay: Jang Hyung-yoon
Art Direction: N/A
Animation Direction:
N/A
Soundscore: Black Magic
Cast: Yeong Yu-mi, Yoo Ah-in, Lee Don-yong, Hwang Seok-jeong
Runtime: 81 min
Distribution: Indiestory Inc.
Film’s official website: http://www.milkcow2014.kr/ (in Korean)
Trailer: 

Seen at the 2014 London Film Festival. This review is part of the K-Animation Season on Otherwhere. Other than two festival screenings, the film has not been released in the UK although it will be shown at the Leeds International Film Festival on November 7 and 10, 2014. A Region A Blu-ray disc with English subtitles is however available from Yesasia.com.

It rather seems that every year there is yet one or another Korean director that we have barely or not at all heard from before that has his/her feature-length animation debut, only then to seemingly disappear forever again. This year (well, last year, if you want to be technical) it is Jang Hyung-yoon that brings an animated tale alive on our screens for the first time.

Continue reading “LFF Review: 우리별 일호와 얼룩소 (Wooribyeol Ilhowa Eolrukso/Satellite Girl and Milk Cow)”

Review:「風立ちぬ」(Kaze Tachinu/The Wind Rises)

kaze 28
Year: 2013
Country:
Japan
Language: Japanese, some German and Italian
Director: Miyazaki Hayao
Studio:
Studio Ghibli
Screenplay: Miyazaki Hayao
Art Direction: Takeshige Youji
Animation Direction:
Kousaka Kitaro
Soundscore: Hisaishi Joe
Theme Song: 
ひこうき雲 (“Hikōki Gumo”/”Contrail”) by Yumi Matsutoya
Cast: Anno Hideaki, Takimoto Miori, Nishijima Hidetoshi, Nishimura Masahiko, Steve Alpert, Kazama Morio, Takeshita Keiko, Shida Mirai, Kunimura Jun, Otake Shinobu, Mansai Nomura
Runtime: 126 min
Distribution: Studio Canal (UK)
Film’s official website: http://www.kazetachinu.jp (日本語),
Trailer:

Special thanks to Studio Canal for an invite to a press screening of Kaze Tachinu prior to its UK release. I also attended the BFI Preview Screening of the film on April 23. Both screenings were subtitled, I have not seen (nor do I intend to) the dubbed version. The film is now showing in select UK cinemas (from May 9, 2014). 
Kaze Tachinu, Miyazaki Hayao’s apparent swan song, comes with a certain kind of echo of「長州ファイブ」(Chōshū faibu/Chosyu Five)in which a group of young, ambitious men – who later become the founding fathers of modern Japan – seek technological knowledge and progress abroad but soon realise that they, and their nation, are years and years behind. Like these men, Horikoshi Jiro (Anno Hideaki), the hero of Miyazaki’s film, desires to know and create for the sake of knowing and creating, although, several decades on from the Choysu Five, he now envies the Germans, not the English, for their advanced know-how. Continue reading “Review:「風立ちぬ」(Kaze Tachinu/The Wind Rises)”

K-Animation Review: PiFan Yeonghwa Manhwa Shorts

PIFAN poster
This review is part of the K-Animation Season on Otherwhere. These shorts screened as part of the Puchan International Fantastic Film Festival this year. A special 감사합니다 goes to the Korean Film Council and the directors for granting access via Kobiz’s online Festival Screenings option.
The Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan) has made it its mission to screen films from “marginalized genres” (quote from PiFan website), showcasing in particular works that fall outside the popular cinematic realm of comedy, drama and action. On the programme this year were some fantastic shorts, two of which were made available online (restricted access only).
Shorts, animated but also otherwise, are a strange thing: they differ from feature-length productions and certainly within animation often exist to explore the artistic medium rather than to narrate a story or entertain. The average viewer might find them pointless, but at the same time shorts can raise interesting questions about conventions, both in terms of what is made (and how) and what we watch. With an animation industry that is simply not known outside national borders and has no full-fledged identity like the world of Japanese anime does, yeonghwa manhwa shorts are seeds of potential that give a glimpse of Korean animation could be. Continue reading “K-Animation Review: PiFan Yeonghwa Manhwa Shorts”

K-Animation Review: 소중한 날의 꿈 (Soljonghang Naluiggoom/Green Days)

green days 1
Alternative Title (English): Green Days: Dinosaur and I
Year:
2011
Country:
South Korea
Language: Korean
Directors: Ahn Jae-hoon, Han Hye-jin
Studio: 
Studio Meditation with Pencil (Studio-MWP)
Screenplay: Song Hye-Jin
Art Direction: Han Hye-jin
Soundscore: N/A
Cast: Park Shin-hye, Song Chang-ui, Oh Yeon-so
Runtime: 95 min
Distribution: Meditation with a Pencil
Film’s official website: N/A
Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFh5ygHa1lE
This review is part of the K-Animation Season on Otherwhere. The film has not been released in the UK. However, a Region 3 DVD with English subtitles is available from Yesasia.com.
When Soljonghang Naluiggoom first premiered in the UK as part of the 2011 London Korean Film Festival it was advertised as a “Korean cousin to Studio Ghibli in style” (quote). With Western audiences knowing virtually nothing about K-animation – including the fact that Korean animators have been involved in many, world-famous projects, from The Simpsons to Family Guy, – the tagline is, from a promotional perspective, understandable, but otherwise unfortunate. Such declarations hinder Korean animation from carving out a path and niche in its own right, and raise expectations, both in terms of content and quality, to a degree that, given Ghibli’s years of experience in the field as well as significantly higher budget and (wo)manpower, is probably not quite fair. Continue reading “K-Animation Review: 소중한 날의 꿈 (Soljonghang Naluiggoom/Green Days)”