Sydney Intercultural Film Festival (SIFF) will be held between the 14th and 24th November 2013 to showcase films that celebrate cultural diversity, whether through topics or through the make-up of filmmakers. Throughout these 11 days of Festival, ethnic communities in Sydney will work together with media professionals, local government and international film industry to show the grand diversity of cultures that are present in Australia.
The term “Intercultural” usually connotes the relationship and exchange between different cultures, but here it will be a fusion of the terms “Multicultural” and “International” that form the two vital elements of the SIFF. Multiculturalism here is not just limited to the ethnic make up of individual countries or regions but encompasses the cultures around the whole world.
SIFF will be the first film festival in Australia that will screen films produced in the DPRK. A variety of classical movies and new films are selected to represent the North Korean cinematography. Five films with English subtitles and two with on-the-stage English language simultaneous interpretation will be offered.
The Australian audience is curious to learn more about the film-making tradition evolved on the northern part of the Korean peninsula divided by military and ideological conflict. Drama, action, and national division are the main themes that dominate North Korean films, but comedy and romance are also present and appeal to the aesthetic taste of domestic and international audiences.
“The Kites Flying in the Sky” 저 하늘의 연 (2008, 94 min., English sub., Dir. P’yo Kwang and Kim Hyon-chol)
This film is based on the true story of a former marathon champion, whose family repatriated to North Korea from Japan. Instead of bright career in sports, she devoted her life to caring for orphans left without parents during the Grand Famine era of the late 1990s. “The Kites Flying in the Sky” was the only North Korean feature film to be screened at the 11th Pyongyang International Film Festival, where it was awarded. Despite local success, the film was poorly received by foreign viewers, who usually dismiss it as “syrupy and propagandistic”.
Available on-line: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Db_dojLCOhg
“Oh, Youth!” 청충이여! (1995, 90 min., English sub., Dir. Jeon Jong-p’al)
“O Youth!” is a mix of comedy, romance, sycophantic zeal and Taekwondo. A North Korean family with six siblings, five of which are young sportswomen, try to marry off the only son, a 30-year-old bachelor who is preoccupied with his studies. His mother wants him to marry an effeminate girl. His father and sisters, on the opposite, want him to marry a sportswoman. Ultimately, the son falls in love with a woman who reconciles the family…
Available on-line: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9mfYOpExhQ
“From Spring to Summer” 봄부터 여름까지 (1987, 82 min., English sub., Joint Russian-DPRK production)
This film tells the dramatic story of a Soviet military group that secretly entered the Japanese-occupied Korea during the last days of WWII in the Pacific. Preventing the creation of new powerful weapon in the clandestine military base, the Russian female soldier Masha and many Korean guerrillas sacrifice their lives for the liberation of Korea.
Available on-line with Russian subs: http://kinokartoshka.net/sovetskie-voennye-filmy/4663-utomlennoe-solnce-smotret-online.html
“A Schoolgirl’s Diary 한녀학생의 일기 (2006, 93 min., English sub., Dir. Jang In-hak,).
One of the most successful films produced in North Korea, “The Schoolgirl’s Diary” received high praise at the international film festivals in Pyongyang and Cannes. It chronicles a girl’s life through her school years: one that’s full of the peer pressure and family problems familiar everywhere. It attempts to resolve the growing conflict between selfish individualism and patriotic self-sacrifice.
Available on-line: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YreSvdWk9oA
“Hong Gil-Dong” 홍길동 (1985, 104 min. English sub., Dir. Kim Kil-in)
Classical historical novel about the Korean Robin Hood tells the story of friendship and love in medieval Korea, in which this Kung-Fu action movie takes place. The illegitimate son of a nobleman and one of his concubines, Hong Kil-dong was rejected by his own family and embarked on the travel through the corrupt world, where he robbed the rich to help the poor. “Hong Kil Dong” is different from the other North Korean movies by its psychological depth, and numerous lyrical digressions, full with romance and emotion.
Available on-line: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2dG5BQOVhI
“The Destiny of Keumhee and Eunhee” 금희와 은희의 운명 (1974, 101 min. Dir. Pak Hak and Eom Kil-seon, no subs)
One of the classics of North Korean cinematography, this film emulates the best examples of Soviet and Chinese film-making traditions. The story is based on the famous novel about the twin-sisters separated by the Korean War. Never heard about each other again, they live in the very different societies separated by the civil and ideological conflict. This film laments the national division and masterfully portrays the grim reality of the post-war time in Korea.
Partly available on-line: http://pann.nate.com/video/214453658
Partly available on-line: http://pann.nate.com/video/214453748
Partly available on-line: http://pann.nate.com/video/214453824
“Our Fragrance” 우리의 향기 (2003, 85 min., Dir. Jeon Jong-p’al, no subs.)
This film analyses the early changes and nascent conflicts, which began emerging in contemporary North Korean society. Foreign cultural influences, growing materialism and consumerism are believed to create obstacles for the advancement of Korean-style Socialism. A romance between a traditionalist researcher and a young female interpreter turns into a tough examine for both of them and their families.
Available on-line with English subs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtuXVFPcAHE