Friday, February 18, 2011

(Feature) Berlinale spotlight on Asia as Lee Yoon-Ki's film debuts

Berlin - Korean director Lee Yoon-Ki's Saranghanda, Saranghaji Anneunda (Come Rain, Come Shine) premiered at the Berlin Film Festival on Thursday, with the Berlinale directing its spotlight on relationships under pressure.








Lee Yoon-Ki's film is about the last day of a couple together before they breakup.


Speaking at a press conference in Berlin, Lee Yoon-Ki said: 'Despite cultural differences, when lovers part I don't think there is much difference between Asia or America.'


The slow-moving melodrama is the only Asian movie to be selected for the 16-movie race for the festival's top honours, a Golden Bear for best film. A large number of Asian films have, however, screened across several of the festival's sections.


The low-budget Saranghanda, Saranghaji Anneunda is not the only film in the festival's main competition to take a close look at a couple's relationship.


Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (Nader And Simin, A Separation) is about a couple whose lives begin to spin out of control after a court rejects their divorce.


In The Future, by US director Miranda July, a couple's relationship is tested after they adopt an ill cat. Turkish director Seyfi Teoman's Bizim Buyuk Caresizligimiz (Our Grand Despair) is about how the peaceful co-existence of two men in their thirties is thrown off course when they allow a friend's sister to move in with them.


The repetitive daily routine of a couple was also at the heart of Hungarian director Bela Tarr's solemn black-and-white A Torinoi Lo (The Turin Horse). The film tells the story of an elderly man living with his dutiful daughter in derelict house on a cheerless landscape swept by a gale.


Their life of water and boiled potatoes with lashings of salt is in marked contrast to the urban world and smart apartment inhabited by the young couple in Saranghanda, Saranghaji Anneunda.


Lee Yoon-Ki said he took the title of his film from a well-known song. 'The feeling comes across in the song that even if life is hard, there can be happier moments,' he said.


This is Lee Yoon-Ki's fourth time at the Berlinale. Saranghanda, Saranghaji Anneunda follows his critically acclaimed debut movie, This Charming Girl, which first screened in Berlin five years ago.


Leading Korean actors Lim Soo-Jung and Hyun Bin star as simply 'she' and 'he' in Lee Yoon-Ki's film.


Hyun Bin, who is about to put his acting career on hold to undergo compulsory military training, also stars in another Korean film screened in Berlin, Late Autumn.


Also among the batch of South Korean films shown in Berlin is Kyuhwan Jeon's Dance Town, about the way husband and wife hope to find a way out of communist North Korea and start a new life in South Korea.


Starring Miran Ra and Seongtae Oh, Dance Town screened in the Berlinale's Panorama section, which focuses independent and arthouse movies.


But life in the south does not live up to expectations as the story of Dance Town unfolds. While waiting for her husband, the wife faces resentment from the locals, who complain about 'new residents' receiving support as refugees from the north.


Officials spy on her and she is forced to confront a sense of isolation, which deepens throughout the movie. She seems most at ease when she is with other outsiders in South Korean society, rather than with her compatriots from the north, let alone the South Koreans.


Dance Town is the third part of a trilogy by Kyuhwan Jeon aimed at exploring the different lives that make up a city. For him, the city is a character in his films. The other two films in the trilogy look at paedophilia and illegal immigrants.


'I'm always interested in a city and its stories,' he said at the screening of Dance Town in Berlin. 'It's just to show the city as it is.'


He said he chose the title because he believed everyone in a city had their own dance. (MonstersandCritics.com and DPA)

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