Sunday, July 30, 2006

spreading his wings

yong joon is not only making his mark as a major force in the promotion of asian culture but i think he's also on his way of making his mark in the international scene as an actor. ok, this may sound too presumptuous on my part, but hey, i'm a big fan and i can dream can't i ?? ^^ anyways, the way i see it, yong joon's ever so careful stance in choosing his films is slowly but surely making some ppl turn their heads and look in his direction. he may not be as prolific or as gifted as his contemporaries but the films he have made so far are doing well in some well known as well as the little known international film festivals all over.

in my opinion, his 2 films have contributed, even in just a small way, in enhancing korean cinema's artistic image in the international film festival circuit. April Snow which was shown in korea on Sept 2005 and Untold Scandal which had its domestic release on Oct 2003 are the two films that yong joon had carefully chosen to devote so much of his time and effort to come up with well made films that would somehow satisfy even the most discerning moviegoer.

i've made a partial summary of the places/events where yong joon's 2 films have made or are making their marks ^^ here's some kind of a tracking sheet of the international film festivals where april snow and untold scandal were invited to participate plus some of the comments made by critics and media ppl during the said festivals.

April Snow - since its debut in korea last Sep 2005, AS has been invited so far in 10 film festivals....and hopefully, more to come ~

1> 30th Toronto Intl Film Festival (sep 8-17, 2005) - shown under the "Special Presentation" programme of the festival.
The Asian film I liked the best, and the one I am hoping gets U.S. distribution, is another South Korean entry. April Snow is a swirl of deeply-realized emotions that escape from the screen to grab the viewer. It's a touching love story about the ways in which people can find comfort in seemingly impossible circumstances. The acting is fantastic and, while the director doesn't saddle us with an improbable happily-ever-after ending, he concludes the film on a note of hope - from popular online film critic James Berardinelli

Cold, antiseptic atmospheres are bathed in a wintry light that seems to shine from inside the battered protagonists’ emotional cores. Hur Jin-ho’s airy and elegant directorial touch slides over the gestures of everyday life and empties them of their accepted meaning, creating a haunting limbo where the performances of Son Ye-jin and top Korean star Bae Yong-joon glow with deep psychological impact. An intimate narrative accompanies this subtle dance of passions. Like mirrored reflections on the two protagonists’ new intimacy we see rendered - with unusual simplicity - the complexity of heartbreak - Giovanna Fulvi, Rome-based intl film fest programmer.

2> 24th Vancouver Intl Film Fest, Canada ( sep 29 - oct 14, 2005) - screened under 'Dragons and Tigers Young Cinema' competition.
April Snow seems to be grounded in a realism that depends on poetry to take it to another level. One example of this poetic kinesis are the poignant love scenes... - schema magazine

3> 53rd San Sebastian Intl Film Fest, Spain (sep 15-24, 2005) - invited under the official/competitive section

4> 10th Pusan Intl Film Festival, South Korea (oct 6-14 2005) - screened in the 'Korean Panorama' section.
from Nick North of firecracker UK - April Snow is another polished, sensitively-told tale which follows two people who turn up at a hospital after an accident involving their spouses, only to discover that the spouses had been having an affair with each other. As they work through the betrayal they inevitably turn to each other. Deliberate of pace, but engrossing nonetheless.

5> 41st Chicago Intl Film Fest, USA (oct 6-20, 2005) - screened in the internatinal competition section. With incredible subtlety and patience, "April Snow" explores the deepest, quietest scars of grief and betrayal. A gentle, elegant meditation on pain and recovery that just might break your heart- Matt Pais of metromix.chicago

6> 29th Goteborg Film Festival, Sweden (jan 27 - feb 6 2006) - invited under the non-competition/worldwide selection programme

7> 8th Deauville Asian Film Fest, France (mar 8-12 2006) - chosen as the opening film.
everybody knows now that (though the korean media has yet to acknowledge this....don't know what's taking them so long.....) april snow is very much appreciated by the french audience and there are lots of great reviews that floated in the net. camille's blog is the place to visit to read all those terrific reviews from french critics, media and moviegoers ^^

8> 1st Costume and Fashion Intl Film Festival, Paris [thanks to camille for this info] (mar 31-apr 4, 2006) -
april snow's costume designer, Kim Hee-ju was chosen as one of the official competitors. this festival offered a unique opportunity to better understand the importance of costumes and wardrobe in the creation of a film's universe, and measure the amount of work that is involved in creating each character, big and small (whether it’s for a period piece or contemporary film) - quoted from the official site.

9> Osian's Cinefan 8th Festival of Asian Cinema, New Delhi (jul 14-23 2006) - the film was screened under the Asian Frescoes section.

10> 6oth Edinburgh Intl Film Fest, UK (aug 14-27 2006) - to be screened under the 'Director's Showcase section.
Hur Jin-ho slowly and subtly draws a tremendous amount of emotional tension from a straightforward narrative with minimal dialogue. He’s greatly assisted by Korean heartthrob Bae Yong-joon and Son Ye-jin, who deliver terrifically understated performances that perfectly match the film’s mood. There’s no clumsy handling of the serendipitous situation either, the events being played out at a perfect pace, allowing the audience to be progressively drawn into the drama - Colan Mehaffey

Untold Scandal - to this day, Untold Scandal is still making the rounds in film festivals, film societies & even film showings in various universities/film schools :)

1> 8th Pusan Intl Film Festival, South Korea (oct 2003) - received NETPAC Award (network for the promotion of Asian cinema) for Best Korean Film

2> Berlin International Film Festival, Germany (feb 5 – 15, 2004) -
For my money, the best film at Berlin so far has not been in the main competition but in the international cinema sidebar. Untold Scandal, by the South Korean director E.J. Yong, is an exquisite reworking of Dangerous Liaisons transplanted to 18th-century Korea. The story of a cynical seduction that turns to grand romance, then to tragedy, is revitalised by this magnificent-looking film. Its eroticism, mystery and poignancy are captivating and the performances are outstanding. It surely can't be long before the rest of the world will be able to see this marvellous film - Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian in Berlin

3> Deauville Asian Film Festival, France (mar 10-14, 2004) - closing film

4> New Directors/New Films, New York, USA (mar 24 –apr 4, 2004)

5> Verona Romance Film Festival, Italy (apr 16-25, 2004) -
The prize for Best Artistic, Technical or Creative Contribution goes to E J-yong for the direction of “Untold Scandal”.

The accredited journalists at the festival awarded the “Stefano Reggiani” special prize from the Veneto’s Order of Journalists to “Untold Scandal” (South Korea), directed by E J-yong, for the following reasons: “For the chromatic elegance of the photography, which creates descriptive and lyrical scenes of luminous incisiveness; for the balance of contrasting emotions played as opposing forces yet voices of a solid musical harmony. For the symbolic value of detail and its meticulous care, open to allegory and metaphor; and for the sound-track: orchestral counterpoint which is discreet – subtly minimal, never overpowering”.

6> Barcelona Asian Film Festival, Spain (apr 30- may 8, 2004) - opening film
The best way to start BAFF was with one of the latest jewels from that country: Untold Scandal. Directed by E J-yong, this period film is an adaptation of the classic French novel “Dangerous Liasions”, but this time transposed to fit Korea’s Chosun Dinasty period. And it sure works! The story works perfectly well, portraying the struggles between the repressive customs of that period and people’s desires, with that Korean touch. The director, with the help of impressive performances from all the cast, the beautiful scenery and a brilliant production design, is capable of creating a superb movie which surely deserves a viewing!

7> Seattle Intl Film Festival, USA (may 20 – jun 13, 2004) -
I've now seen the Dangerous Liason story done at least three times, and this is every bit as good as any other version. Actually, the story translates very well into a Korean film of nobility and manners in the 18th century. This film has unbelievably wonderful costumes, makeup, hair, sets. Every visual aspect was under total control and seemed authentic. The acting was above average. … the best looking film of the festival so far -from 2004 Seattle International Film Festival Journal

8> Shanghai International Film Festival, China (jun 5 – 13, 2004) - received 3 awards Best Director Award, Best Music Award & 500 journalists at the festival awarded Best Visual and Sound Effects to the film.

9> Sydney Film Festival, Australia (jun 11-26, 2004) - official selection

10> Los Angeles Film Festival, USA (jun 17-26, 2004) - official selection
With exquisite cinematography and gorgeous sets and costumes of 18th century Korea, this elegant film is mesmerizing and painfully gripping at the same time. …. Bae Yong-jun succeeds at giving the character great depth and layers - Asia Pacific Arts

11> Edinburgh International Film Festival, United Kingdom (aug 18-29, 2004) - closing film
Untold Scandal, a South Korean remake of Dangerous Liaisons...the new version is "even more lush, sensual and compelling than the John Malkovich-Glenn Close classic" , according to festival artistic director Shane Danielsen

The “Scandal” is an outstanding film which is equal to the “2046”, esthetically & artistically and it will become a good chance to confirm the status of Korean movies which are distinguishing themselves in the World film field. Excellent acting from Lee Mi-sook as Lady Cho and Bae Yong-jun as Cho-won - from

12> Montreal World Film Festival, Canada (aug 26-sep 6, 2004) - invited under the 'Golden Zenith' Award for asian films.

13> Korean Film Festival, Auckland, New Zealand (Oct 22-31, 2004)

14> Hawaii International Film Festival, Hawaii, USA (Oct 2004) - one of the festival's Signature Galas

15> Leeds International Film Festival, United Kingdom (Oct 29-Nov 7, 2004) - Official selection

16> Three Rivers Film Festival, Pittsburgh, PA, USA (nov. 5 – 18, 2004) (Filmmaker’s Film Festival)

17> Anchorage Film Festival, Alaska, USA (dec 5, 2004)
Bae Yong-jun is not as devilish as John Malkovich, who played the role in the American film, but he is more playful in his deceits. He's also more believable as a man for whom the ladies would fall. … Director E J-Yong succeeds because he treats the subject with irony and makes the story even more sophisticated than it was originally conceived - Miami Herald

18> Glasgow World Film Festival, Scotland (feb 10-17,2005)

19> Third Jameson Dublin International Festival, Ireland (feb 11-20, 2005)

20> Bradford Film Festival, United Kingdom (march 4-19, 2005)
This is much sexier than the 1988 Stephen Frears version, which boasted more verbal sparring than heaving bosoms; the frocks are exquisite, the defrocking even more so. And the choice of a baroque-pastiche score works wonders. But the real genius of Untold Scandal is how sublimely it manages Laclos's ending. E J-Yong saves his most painterly and striking sequences to illustrate the idea not of love feigned, but of love lost, and his last 20 minutes are pure, devastating poetry - from the daily telegraph, UK

21> Chlortrudis Society for Independent Films, Boston (march 2005) - nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay - In this tenth iteration of Les liaisons dangereuses to hit the screen, and possibly the most erotic, writers Dae-woo Kim and Hyeon-jeong Kim and director Je-yong Lee use a subplot of underground Catholics to add to the flavor of risk and repressed sensuality. A beautiful overlay of Korean culture on a French story.

22> Istanbul International Film Festival, Turkey (apr 2-17, 2005)

23> Belfast Film Festival, United Kingdom (apr 7-16, 2005)
This stunning film had me entranced throughout its entire two hours. It’s rich, dynamic and absorbing, and a genuine cinematic triumph. …. You’ll enjoy a cavalcade of gorgeous sets, a story of remarkable emotional force, and an ending to die for. Fantastic –Leicester Mercury – UK News

24> Alba Regia International Film Festival, Székesfehérvár, Hungary (jun 6-12, 2005)

* i did not include it here but there are about 5 more small film fests that featured untold scandal. btw, i made some revisions/additions to the untold scandal summary initially made by shirley & posted in byj's quilt...thanks a bunch to shirley !!


Blogger Toujours_BYJ said...

Hi Frances, so far I know that April Snow was at 3 others festivals in France :

- Opening movie (April Snow features in the out of competition section) at 12th edition of Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian (the oldest film festival in Europe entirely dedicated to Asian cinema) from 31/01/2006 to 07/02/2006

- Opening movie at Festival Reflets du cinéma Coréen from 14/03/2006 to 28/03/2006
I even translated some reviews and posted on Quilt

- In competition at the 17th edition of Festival du film d’Aventures de Valenciennes from 15/03/2006 to 19/03/2006 (

12:53 PM  
Anonymous ginnie said...


This is great! Thank you for the compilation.


3:20 PM  
Anonymous jaime said...

Thanks frances for the summary of BYJ's movie achievements. He sure goes for quality, not quantity.

I still kick myself for not knowing him earlier, so I could watch AS in the Toronto Film Festival with other TO sisters.

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Frances.
It is great..
I appreciate your efforts and time.
Thanks again.


10:05 PM  
Blogger frances said...

hi camille,
vesoul !! that's the one i can't recall ^^ thanks sis for the add'l info. now i'm hoping that AS will make a good impression in UK during & after the edinburgh filmfest.

11:35 PM  
Blogger frances said...

hey ginnie,
good thing he has only 2 films so far, or else i would run out of space to jot down all the places & events where his films were screened...*wink*

11:39 PM  
Blogger frances said...

oh jaime, you also missed the chance of meeting dir hur jinho !!
but worry not, i'm sure yong joon's upcoming films have a very good chance of getting invited again in TIFF :)

11:44 PM  
Blogger frances said...

hi suehan, welcome to my blog !
i do enjoy doing this for yong joon. i'm proud of his film choices and he deserves recognition for all his efforts... and i just love his acting ^^

11:47 PM  
Blogger bb said...

haha... if i were jaime, i would be kicking myself too! yea, jaime, don't kill me! i know, i know... i shouldn't be rubbing it in :p

but really! a chance to meet with director hur! i do love that guy, you know? such a big and unruly looking man, but such sensitivity! i love the delicate touches and the almost sensuous nuances in his movies.

and... of course you missed the chance of meeting great sisters like coco, CJ, mishio.... haha... okay, okay, i'll stop now... :p

1:16 AM  
Anonymous jaime said...

ok bb, now that you mention these lovely sisters name like coco, CJ and mishio..... excuse me, let me go bang my head on the wall!

5:25 AM  
Blogger bb said...

haiya, jaime... don't mind me, just trying to be knotty there :p

buy you a drink wherever we get to meet one day, ya? forgive me my 'knottiness'?

6:45 AM  
Blogger mrs a said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:43 PM  
Blogger mrs a said...

Sorry had mistyped words.

Frances, great piece and I believe it will only be a matter of time before he explodes all over the world. He is a quality actor and they are a rare species.

I wish I could of known him sooner but then again where I live (middle of country bumpkin land usa) no chance of that until we got AZN so I should be thankful for that. Atleast now I do!

Jaime, you could say we are a day late and dollar short on getting on-board for BaeYongJoon. But let's hear it for the LATE BLOOMERS! We've only just begun...

4:38 PM  
Anonymous jaime said...

ok bb, if you're taking me to Starbucks, I'd better start thinking now what to order!

yes mrs a, I'm just happy that we get to know about him. I know it's late, but I hope he won't retire and turn into a business tycoon soon!

5:26 PM  
Anonymous ginnie said...

I wish you ran out of space...really..please run out of space. =)

mrs a,

I am with you!

Yes, you are lucky to have AZN...I guess I am in worse state...Minnesota has nothing except the Mall of America. ha! wish it has AZN..if only..if only...Ohio and Minnesota..not too far apart, yeah? let me know when you come to this part of the states. We could meet up. =)

5:37 PM  

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