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Korean Film Festival: Best of the Fest

The Korean Film Festival In Australia (KOFFIA) is back and bigger than ever for its seventh year running with a program busting at the seams covering everything from blockbuster cinema to arthouse and rom-coms, all screened with English subtitles. To help wade through the sprawling lineup, KOFFIA artistic director David Park introduces his five hottest picks of the festival.

Alice in Earnestland (ACMI, Federation Square – 8:15pm Wednesday September 7)

If you’ve missed Alice in Earnestland at the Sydney Film Festival this year, don’t miss your second chance to see it at the Korean Film Festival in Australia! The film follows Soonam, (Alice) in present-day Korea (Earnestland) and her inevitable descent into extreme behaviour as she is grinded down to her bare sanity by dark forces of society. Alice in Earnestland has wildly exciting visuals, even wilder action and some very sobering implications. Bone-shaking farce meets political satire in a film that is often truly scary.

 
The Wailing (ACMI, Federation Square – 8:00pm Friday September 2)

Police officer Jong-goo’s seemingly peaceful village is suddenly plagued with mysterious and violent deaths. With the deaths continuing to no avail, one by one, the villagers begin to notice that these deaths began when a mysterious man moved into a house perched on top of a nearby mountain. Death lingers in the air as a wild, entertaining supernatural thriller ensues which will have you glued to the screen from start to finish. The masterful use of suspense and gore was the talk of Cannes Film Festival and will no doubt delight film buffs wanting more.

 
4th Place  (ACMI, Federation Square – 7:00pm Thursday September 1)


11-year-old swimmer Joon-ho hopes to become an Olympic medallist. But he has one problem; he always comes in 4th at all the swimming contests he participates in. His mother, hearing rumours about a competent coach, Gwang-su, manages to hire him as Joon-ho’s personal coach. But the coach who was once the most promising athlete on the national team is now a disillusioned individual and trains Joon-ho in the only way he knows how; by using violence. Hailed as the Korean Whiplash, 4th Place finds its relevance as opening of the Korean Film Festival 2016 coinciding with the Rio Olympics.

 

Inside Men (ACMI, Federation Square – 4:00pm Saturday September 3)


Korea’s well renowned gangster genre is like the prize-child from the country’s booming film industry. Headlined by Lee Byeong-hun (Terminator Genysis, G.I Joe, RED 2), Inside Men, based on a popular web-comic, was that prize-child of the year. A smashing political revenge thriller with more double-crossings and plot twists than you can count, the film follows the all-out-war between three men; a gangster out for revenge, an ambitious prosecutor and an enigmatic editor for the press, all with one agenda. Power.
 

Collective Invention (ACMI, Federation Square – 6:00pm Friday September 2)

 
A crowd favourite at the Toronto International Film Festival, Collective Invention is the rise and fall story of Gu, an average joe turned half-fish-half-man mutant from a medical experiment gone wrong. Gu becomes an overnight sensation rising to meteoric fame but with it comes the cons of being in the spotlight. A victim to some, a poseur to others, the more his renown grows, the more Gu comes to represent whatever is projected upon him. Forget your normal fairytale about mermaids, this modern day black comedy of a merman living in Seoul is a social satire not to be missed.

KOREAN FILM FESTIVAL MELBOURNE runs from Thursday September 1 - Thursday September 8 at ACMI.