Tuesday, September 21, 2010

[Chuseok] English-subtitled films to catch eyes

A scene from “Resilience.” The award-winning documentary will be screened with English subtitles on Wednesday at Cinecode Sonje, downtown Seoul.

/ Courtesy of Jin Jin Pictures

By Lee Hyo-won

The nation’s biggest holiday means migrating to hometowns en masse for Seoulites, but for some local residents it might mean trying to find something to do in the eerily vacant city. The movie theaters are wide open during Chuseok, and, in addition to Hollywood offerings, a couple of domestic films, conveniently subtitled in English are also available.

Cinema is a window into a culture’s history, present and future, and overseas adoption has been part of the landscape since the post-Korean War (1950-53) days. Even without war orphans, Korea continues to be one of the few non-underdeveloped countries to ” babies, due to the relatively low percentage of domestic adoption.

Overseas adoption has thus been regarded as a rather taboo issue, with tragic cases being televised — and largely ignored — through stark documentaries. But in recent years, the topic has been depicted in a more pluralistic way in mainstream culture, such as the film “My Father” starring heartthrob Daniel Henney.

“Resilience” documents the story of Brent, who reunites with his birth mother after a 30-year separation. The two try to make amends for lost time and overcome cultural differences, to learn about and understand each other. The director Tammy Chu is herself an adoptee, and she retains a critical view of problems regarding overseas adoption that Korean society has largely ignored. The running time is 75 minutes and all ages are admitted.

The film recently picked up the prize for best documentary at the Asian Pacific American Film Festival in Washington D.C. and has been invited to the San Diego Asian Film Festival in October and Vancouver Asian Film Festival in November. A special screening of the film will take place on Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Cinecode Sonje, near Anguk Station, exit 1, on subway line 3.

Korean films have gained prominence near and far but it is often difficult to catch the latest offerings outside of film festivals. To cater to the local demand and interest in Korean films, Seoul City has teamed up with CGV Theater, the country’s largest cinema chain, to regularly screen a local mainstream film with English subtitles.

“Troubleshooter” has attracted over 1 million in audience members as of Monday in an 11-day period, and foreign residents can check out what the hype is all about through the English subtitled version being offered at CGV Gangnam, Guro, Myeong-dong and Yongsan. 

The action flick features Sul Kyoung-gu, one of the country’s most respected actors, in the role of Tae-sik (Sul) as a former cop now working as a notoriously skilled personal investigator. One day he is assigned to his toughest case yet — he is framed for murder and a mysterious caller watches and controls his every move. In order to prove his innocence he must kidnap a high-profile lawyer who is involved in a political scandal. The film’s running time is 100 minutes and is rated 15 and over. Visit www.cgv.co.kr.

The movie features everything people love about Korean action films — a rather uncanny character, though otherwise flawed and completely relatable, championing corrupt authority figures in a most unexpected way, and the central drama being nicely packaged with high-flying action sequences and comic relief. While it might not be one of Sul’s better films, as it lacks character development, it provides for some Korean-style entertainment.

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