This past weekend I saw some movies at the 14th annual Jeonju International Film Festival. (JIFF). I’d been to this once years ago, I forget which year.
Friday night I saw Searching for Bill, a 2012 film out of Denmark. Here a man named Bill has swindled a lot of people out of money, and the car of a New Orleans man named Bob. Bob’s car turns up in Detroit, with Bill’s notebook still in it. This prompts Bob to stay on the road longer to find the culprit. A long the way the narrative crosses with other people on the road and other people that have been swindled by Bill. It has a documentary style feel to it, and while the various characters are traveling we hear snippets of news reports about the economic hardships of the day. It has a unresolved, if not realistic ending.
After that was Shahid, a 2012 Indian film that hasn’t been commercially released yet. It tells the tragic true story of the title characters journey to become a lawyer where he defends people falsely accused of terrorist attacks. He struggles with balancing family life as well as threats to his personal safety.
Saturday was the 2012 film Baby Keep Smiling, about beauty pageant contestants in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. What makes this pageant different is all the contestants are mothers. The various characters include someone that was a war refugee, the wife of a diplomat, two rival neighbors, and a mother who’s family is about to be evicted. There were many other characters, in fact there were too many.
The 2012 Canadian film Behind Closed Doors is a series of intersecting narratives about girls of various ages in different foster homes and juvenile detention and treatment centers. The finale is a party with all the characters present. It is a tense scene as the audience is expecting some shocking revelation that doesn’t exactly come.
Saturday night was last years American film The Master, about a post WWII self help guru whose techniques involve hypnosis and past life regression. The characters were interesting but overall this one didn’t grab me as much.
On Sunday I saw the best movie at this festival. Last year’s Japanese movie Blindly in Love is about a cripplingly shy 35 year old man who falls and his relationship with a blind woman. The guy still lives with his parents, and has worked the same civil service job for 13 years. The girls father is rich and doesn’t approve of the relationship, but the girls mother helps them to see each other. It is both humorous and extremely moving. It was also fun to watch with the Korean audience as they laughed and cheered throughout. They could relate to the similar culture of Japan with being older and still living with your parents and the pressure of getting married and parents setting you up. It does not have a typical ending, rather an unresolved one (There was also a un-finished sub-plot about an attempt for promotion). However it unfortunately repeats a plot device at the very end. I’d never seen a movie I loved so much get everything write and then mess up at the very end.
This was followed by another American film from last year, John Dies at the End. It reminded me of Naked Lunch mixed with the goofy horror style of Evil Dead. These two guys fight monsters from another dimension with the help of a self help guru. Funny and scary at times, but overall I wasn’t into it.
The final movie was last years Canadian documentary Lunarcy. It’s about various people that have an obsession with the moon. One man uses a legal loophole from the United Nations to sell property on the moon as well as other planets. It largely focuses on a man with Aspergers syndrome who has a genuine desire to colonize moon, and travels across the country earnestly seeking support for his cause. During one high point he meets an astronaut who was on the moon who now makes moon paintings. As much as one might label the various people here as being strange etc. the question is raised of why in fact did we stop going to the moon? Why have the moon and the various planets not been colonized in this post 2000 world?
Good festival overall.