Korean films under spotlight in New York

Korean films received the spotlight at the 12th New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF). 

The festival was held at the Walter Reade Theater of the Lincoln Center in Manhattan from June 28 to July 15. During the special Korean film screening, a total of 24 Korean feature and short films were shown. 

The festival invited Korean actor Ryoo Seung-beom to highlight his career, screening his films including The Berlin File, The Unjust, Bloody Tie, and Arahan. 

The festival also paid close attention to Korean directors, screening E J-yong’s Behind the Camera: Why Mr. E Went to Hollywood, Jung Ji-woo’s A Muse, Jang Cheol-soo’s latest work Secretly, Greatly, and Lee Won-suk’s How to Use Guys with Secret Tips. 

From second from left: Goran Topalovic (co-founder/executive director at Subway Cinema and the NYAFF), Kim Go-eun, Ryu Seung-beom, E J-yong, and Jung Ji-woo at NYAFF. 
After the screening, the actors and directors who took part in the special screening answered questions from the audience including journalists. 

On how it feels to be on a special focus and why he stars mainly in action films, Ryu said, “It is strange and fun to see a special screening under my name. It would be easier to do action films when I am young but I don’t have preference for a specific genre.” 
Director E J-yong also talked about Korean films and actors gaining more recognition around the world. “Korean films have done well recently and Hollywood is looking for new actors and that’s why Hollywood is looking for more Korean actors and directors,” he said. 

Responding to a question on whether foreign audiences can understand Korean sentiments, E answered, “There is nothing purely Korean anymore because Korea is constantly influenced by foreign media. Directors express their ideas through their films but as soon as films are made, how the films are received is really up to audiences.” 

Kim Go-eun, heroine of the film A Muse, received the Rising Star Award at the festival, in recognition of her acting debut in the movie. The film depicts a sexual relationship between a 17-year-old girl, played by Kim, and a 70-year-old poet. Starring in the film, Kim went from an unknown drama student to one of the hottest actresses in Korea. Her performance has earned her a number of awards including the Best New Actress award at the Grand Bell Awards in 2012. 

American media outlets took much interest in the festival. In an article titled “From Across the Pacific, Good Old American Fare,” the New York Times said, “The New York Asian Film Festival will offer a panoply of human-scaled, real-work films… many of them inventive takes on styles the American film industry has largely given up.” 

The article introduced A Muse and Secretly, Greatly, describing A Muse as “exploring both artistic and sexual jealousy.” For Secretly Greatly, the article said main actor Kim Soo-hyun is “quite amusing” in his role as a spy posing as a village idiot living in a backward neighborhood. 

Indiewire, an online film magazine, reported on the festival in a June 26 article titled “10 must-see movies at the New York Asian Film Festival,” introducing A Muse, The Concubine by director Kim Dae-sung, and Behind the Camera: Why Mr. E Went to Hollywood. 

The Concubine tells a sumptuous tale of Machiavellian intrigue in a royal palace, while Behind the Camera is a self-reflexive half-documentary comedy in which director E, starring in the film himself, tells his film crew that he plans to direct them through an Internet link from Los Angeles and has arranged for techies and actors to work for a ten-minute smartphone promo about his film, worrying his cast and crew members and putting them through chaos. 

A total of 63 films, including four short films, from Asian nations including Korea, Japan, China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam were screened at the festival. 

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