15th London Korean Film Festival: November 2020

In an act of mercy, the LKFF returns for a 15th year and is bringing all its friends and family with it.

I think we could all use a little levity in our lives. It’s been a rough year – even rougher than the average set by the past, oh, let’s say half a decade now. Trips abroad have been cancelled, jobs have been lost, and in risk of abandoning the light tone I tend to adopt for the site a lot of people died. Probably shouldn’t have led with the vacation stuff, to be honest.

But with theatres closing their doors, cinemas facing permanent layoffs and bars struggling to keep up with who they’re allowed to have in I was not holding out a tonne of hope that we’d see the return of many of London’s beloved film festivals, but then a few weeks back, the London Korean Film Festival came out with a preview screening – the delightful Kim Ji-young: Born 1982 – and soon after they announced that they would return for their 15th year.

Featuring 9 movies that will screen in physical, actually-there cinemas, the line-up is a lot more complete than that with over 30 films both long and short in 9 strands. The usual suspects Women’s Voices, Cinema Now and Animation are present as ever and are definitely going to be worth checking out, but this year’s special focus is one we’re probably all missing to a degree: Friends and Family. The focus leans a little on the drama with coming-of-age film Moving On, and the bottle episode-like Intimate Strangers. Others to watch out for will be the much-lauded Family Ties, crime drama Juvenile Offender and comedy The Happy Life.

After last year’s in-depth dive into the last century of Korean cinema, LKFF returns with some more oldies (apologies to anyone born in the late 70s to early 80s. You too are oldies) in its Classics strand, with a connected theme: the Mudang – or shaman. Those films are Divine Bow and Daughter of Fire, both directed by Im Kwon-taek, and Eul-hwa. Lastly, in celebration of his historic Best Picture win last year, we’ll be getting three shorts from the master himself Bong Joon-ho. The teeny-tiny barely seven minutes long – Some Light? and the depressingly real-sounding Influenza are limited to 500 viewers, so please don’t rent them until I have. But the considerably more-fun-seeming Incoherence will also be available – though only for 3 days, so be quick.

For those of you who want to get out of the house, stretch your legs and sit in a chair other than the one you’ve not left for seven months, you’ll find some activity at the Curzon Soho, which is playing Pawn (29th October); the Rio which will have Jesters: The Game Changers (31st October), Even Little Grass Has Its Own Name and My Own Breathing (both on the 7th November); the Everyman Screen on the Green for An Old Lady (3rd November), Me & Me (4th November) and Vertigo (8th November); and lastly the Genesis Cinema for The Happy Life (5th November) and Ashfall (11th November).

The Closing Gala will unfortunately not be at a cinema, but the movie – Bori – will be available to stream all day on the 12th, so you don’t have to get all dressed up. Though that said, I will definitely be wearing my tails and bow-tie to the lounge that day. Online screenings are plentiful, and I haven’t even come close to listen them all here (and when I have, I didn’t exactly say what any of them were about) but to do that you’ll have to check out the London Korean Film Festival’s full schedule here where you can also purchase access to their screenings.

So, like, do that. Take two weeks off and watch them all. God knows we’ve all earned a break.

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