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Bong Joon-ho and South Korean Cinema to Be the Focus of Vilnius IFF Retrospectives

The 25th Vilnius IFF will celebrate South Korea’s golden age of cinema and look back on the career of “Parasite” director.

Both retrospectives are representative of their time, its politics, and the level of creative freedom allowed filmmakers. “The South Korean military regime censored cinema until 1993, even imprisoning directors who addressed inconvenient themes. Bong’s films, on the other hand, openly criticize the economic and social issues present in his native country,” observes the festival’s artistic director Mantė Valiūnaitė.

In 2019, South Korean cinema celebrated its centennial by digitizing and restoring many important films. Those from the 1960s – the country’s golden age of cinema – will be screened in one of the festival’s retrospectives.

Kim Ki-young’s thriller “The Housemaid” (1960), which portrays cultural and societal changes that took place after the war, is credited with inspiring multiple generations of Korean filmmakers. When a husband cheats on his wife with their maid, the affair results in a pregnancy. Fearing that the scandal will tarnish their reputation, the couple demand she have an abortion.

THE HOUSEMAID
THE HOUSEMAID

Hong Eun-won’s “The Woman Judge” (1962) is the second Korean film made by a female director. It portrays a young woman working towards her dream career and defying restrictive patriarchal norms.

THE WOMAN JUDGE
THE WOMAN JUDGE

“Aimless Bullet” (1961), directed by Yu Hyun-mok, had been considered a lost masterpiece after the military government censored it. Restored by the Korean Film Archive, the realist drama follows a man and his family living in poverty, feeling traumatised and exploited. Lee Man-hee‘s “A Day Off” (1968) was also banned until being rediscovered in 2005. The director depicts a young couple with no means to build a life together, having been left behind in a rapidly expanding city.

A DAY OFF
A DAY OFF

The second retrospective will be comprised of Bong Joon-ho’s four earliest films. His debut “Barking Dogs Never Bite” (2000) has a premise that may be hard for animal lovers to handle. The offbeat comedy follows an academic who grows increasingly annoyed with the incessant noise made by the dogs at his apartment building. One day, he takes drastic action.

BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE
BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE

The director’s second feature “Memories of Murder” (2003) was based on the true story of South Korea’s first serial killer. When a small town is rattled by the murders of local women, a Seoul detective joins local policemen to help investigate the crimes.

MEMORIES OF MURDED
MEMORIES OF MURDED

In “The Host” (2006), Bong ventures into yet another genre – horror. After American soldiers dump toxic chemicals into the river that flows through South Korea’s capital, a monster emerges to wreak havoc on the city and its inhabitants.

THE HOST
THE HOST

Finally, psychological thriller “Mother” (2009) follows a woman trying to prove her son’s innocence after he’s been accused of murder. The festival will screen a black and white version of the film, released in 2013.

Please find all Retrospective films here and here.

The entire 2020 Vilnius IFF programme can be found here: https://kinopavasaris.lt/en/programa

About the festival:

The 25th Vilnius International Film Festival Kino Pavasaris will take place March 19–April 2, 2020. Last year’s festival was visited by 126 542 filmgoers, making it the largest cinema event in Lithuania and one of the most notable film festivals in Eastern Europe. 

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