Korean Film’s Early Years To Be Celebrated At BFI Southbank In February

To mark the centenary of the first Korean film ever made, BFI Southbank and the Korean Cultural Centre UK (KCCUK) have partnered to present all surviving feature length Korean films produced prior to 1945. The season runs from February 7 to February 28.

BFI Southbank and KCCUK present 'Early Korean Cinema: Lost Films From the Japanese Colonial Period' from February 7 - 28 2019

Running from February 7 to February 28, BFI Southbank and the Korean Cultural Centre UK (KCCUK) present a season celebrating Korean cinema’s early years. 2019 marks the centenary year of the first Korean film with all surviving feature length Korean films made prior to 1945 being screened during the season.

Early Korean Cinema: Lost Films From The Japanese Colonial Period brings together a collection of remarkable works that were, until 2000, thought to have been lost forever. But a series of discoveries unveiled a treasure trove of melodramas, newsreels and propaganda films from the colonial period.

Co-curated by University of Sheffield Senior Lecturer Kate Taylor-Jones and KCCUK’s Film Curator Hyun Jin Cho, the season will present these films, which boast restorations thanks to the work of the Korean Film Archive, for the first time in the UK.

BFI Southbank and KCCUK present 'Early Korean Cinema: Lost Films From the Japanese Colonial Period' from February 7 - 28 2019

Audiences are invited to learn about the stars, directors and politics of this complex and controversial period, a time when Korea was under Japanese rule. These compelling films can’t be dismissed as products of colonial propaganda as they showcase the skill, talent and ambition of the Korean filmmakers who made them. Unique creations, these films shaped Korean cinema and are the basis for the region’s contemporary output.

The season opens on February 7 with Korea’s oldest surviving film Crossroads of Youth from director Ahn Jong-hwa (which was made 1934). Live performances from musicians, a narrator and actors help bring this work to life as audiences experience this tale of love, desire, betrayal and revenge on the streets of Seoul.

The majority of the films programmed were made between 1910 and 1945 (a period of Japanese occupation) so are products of a complicated and difficult period in Korean history. Most notable are 1938’s Military Train, 1941’s Volunteer, Patriots Day in Joseon from 1940, Japanese Chronicles and Jose on News No. 11 (both from 1943), and Tuition from 1940.

BFI Southbank and KCCUK present 'Early Korean Cinema: Lost Films From the Japanese Colonial Period' from February 7 - 28 2019

The season closes on February 28 with the most recent film in the programme – Hurrah For Freedom – which celebrates Korean independence in 1945 and was the first film made after Japan’s defeat. Director Chio In-Gyu, who had previously made Japanese propaganda films, charts the life and death battle that Korean freedom fighters faced during colonial occupation, showing the complex personal and artistic decisions people had to make.

On Thursday, February 7 at 6pm, Chung Chong-hwa, Senior Researcher at the Korean Film Archive will be on stage for the screening of Crossroad of Youth.

On Monday, February 18 at 6.10pm, there will be a screening of Spring of the Korean Peninsula with Baek Moonim (Yonsei University), Lee Hwa-jin (Inha University) Chung Chong-hwa (Korean Film Archive) and season co-curator Kate Taylor-Jones in attendance.

BFI Southbank and KCCUK present ‘Early Korean Cinema: Lost Films From the Japanese Colonial Period’ from February 7 – 28 2019

About the Author
Rory Fish has loved movies since he can remember. If he was to put together an "all time" top 10 of absolute favourites it would have to include North By Northwest, 12 Angry Men and Sunset Boulevard.

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