Festival (Chugje) (1996)|
Director Im Kwon-Taek
Production Company Tae Heung Films Co., Ltd
Date of Rate 1996-04-17
Date of Theatrical Release 1996-06-06
Running Time 107 min.
Writer Lee Cheong-Jun
Screenplay(Adaptation) Yook Sang-Hyo
Producer Lee Tae-Won
Executive Producer Lee Tae-Won
Director of PhotoGraphy Park Seung-Bae
Art Director Kim Yoo-Jun
Editor Park Sun-Deok
Ahn Seong-Ki, Oh Jeong-Hae, Han Eun-Jin, Jeong Kyeong-Sun, Bark Seung-Tae, Lee Kum-Ju, Ahn Beung-Kung, Kim Kung-Ahe, Nam Jeong-Hee
A renowned writer in his forties, Lee Joonsup (Ahn Sung-ki) receives word that his aged mother (Han Eun-jin) has passed away and hastens to his hometown. The death of Lee's mother, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease for over 5 of her 87 years, elicits a different emotional response from various people. In particular, Lee's sister-in-law, who nursed the ailing woman through her final years, feels a mixture relief and regret. Meanwhile, reporter Jang Haerim (Jeong Kyeong-sun), who has come to write an article shining new light on Lee's literary career through his mother's death, is busy covering the ins and outs of the funeral from an observer's point of view. The funeral begins, and the chasm of conflict deepens among Lee's family members. But as the various funerary rituals progress, their conflict finds gradual resolution. Yongsoon (Oh Jeong-hae), who blamed her uncle Joonsup for not taking care of her grandmother, sheds tears as she reads a children's story he wrote. After the funeral, everyone in Lee's family comes away with the profound love and wisdom left behind by their aged parent in his or her heart.
"Has great documentary value in regard to Korean customs and practices" (Ho Hyun-chan), "A new, as-yet-unrecognized pinnacle for Im Kwon-taek's cinematic career" (Kim Young-jin)
Festival has thus far been regarded as a minor work in the stellar filmography of director Im Kwon-taek, and in some senses, this assessment may be correct. The height of revelation delivered by his films from the 1980s onward, the micro- or macroscopic examination of national tragedies throughout Korean history, the ability to raise up what is left by the collision of affirmation and criticism regarding Korean tradition such distinctive elements of Im Kwon-taek's cinematic vision are not displayed prominently in Festival. Depending on one's perspective, this particular movie may be seen as the director's rather sentimental rendering of the traditional Korean virtue of filial duty. Moreover, his decision to equate the feminine (mother) with home or history may be disappointing to younger critics.
Nonetheless, the strengths of Festival derive from its very status as a "minor" work. Smaller experiments that cannot be undertaken in major films are variously attempted in this film. On a narrative level, Festival presents a story within a story that juxtaposes the ethics of reality with the morals of a fairy-tale world, thus reinforcing its thematic interest while alleviating its simplicity. On a more formal level, the film alternates between the inner frame and the outer frame a device oft utilized by Im Kwon-taek in the past. But this same device finds a more qualitatively rich and vibrant expression in this film, thus deepening the dimensionality of the frames themselves. The recreation of the rowdy funeral scene through the movements of characters on the surface, in the depths, and in between although no longer a novel technique since Jean Renoir's Rules of the Game is an unprecedented attempt for Im Kwon-taek. Above all, such formal experimentation is a perfect fit for the festive atmosphere of a traditional Korean funeral conveyed in Festival. Despite such complexities, the message Im communicates through his film is relatively clear and simple. It might be considered naive, but like the grandmother in Lee Joonsup's story, Im is not afraid to become a sage imparting wisdom to his fellow Koreans.
Director Bio: Im Kwon-taek (1936- )
He began his filmmaking career as prop assistant to the lighting assistant, going through the traditional apprenticeship system of Chungmuro to become a film director. And in 1962, he made his directorial debut with Farewell Tumen River(Dumangang-a Jal Itgeora), an action film that deals with the plight of the Independence Army of Manchuria. He made Weeds(Jabcho), Mismatched Nose (Jjagko), and The Family Pedigree (Jogbo) during the 1970s and with his movies of the 1980s, Kilsodeum(Gilsotteum), Ticket (Tiket), Surrogate Mother (Ssibat-i) and Mandara (Mandala), gradually became recognized for his artistry and craftsmanship. He met Lee Tae-won and began working with Taeheung Film Studios starting with his 1989 film Aje Aje Bara Aje (Aje Aje Bara Aje) and continued to work consistently with the studio from then on. He achieved box office success with his The General's Son (Janggun-ui adeul) series and became a nationally recognized figure with the then unparalleled box office success of Sopyonje(Seopyeonje). He won many national and international awards for his works that dealt with traditional Korean themes and motives and many retrospectives of his works were held abroad. In 2002, he won the prize for best director at the Cannes Film Festival with his work, Chihwaseon(Chihwaseon) and in 2005, won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Berlin Film Festival for his lifetime effort in film