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Bong Jonn-ho to jury at SUNDANCE?!

Thursday 13, January 2011

There is a rumour going round that the director Bong Joon-ho
has been selected as a Jury member at the Sundance Film Festival,
which is being held in Utah, USA from the 20th.
Perhaps I should say I saw it in an article published in Korea
that the festival had announced this.
However, looking on the official festival website the Jury section
still gives the message:
“We will announce the Jury in December. Please visit us again”.
Bong Joon-ho had a big hit in America with his film “Mother”.
In fact, the Wall Street Journal selected in their “10 Best Films of 2010” list.
I think it is just right that director Bong has been chosen
to be a jury member at this premiere event for independent films in America.
The Sundance Film Festival has, if anything, aimed at creating
the trend of “from the North American market to the world market”,
and has been a stage for debuting independent film directors in America.
Recent examples of this are:
Christopher Nolan of “Inception” fame
Quentin Tarantino, famous for “Kill Bill”
Yoon Ahn Tran of “Norwegian Wood”
It is unfortunate that Sundance is not usually interested in Asian cinema.
About two years ago it appointed a person to be responsible for selecting
Japanese films. He visited Japan secretly to see the latest topical releases,
but nothing came of this trip. No Japanese films were selected.
This trend is not only true of Japanese film, it is across Asia.
The market is deemed weak, because the main focus
is the “North American Market”.
This year “In What City Does It Live” from Malaysian director
Liew Seng-tat was the only project chosen from the whole of Asia.
The film itself arose from the Script Writer’s Lab,
which is basically a training course for scriptwriters.
So there is a slight feeling on one step ahead?!
Previous years has seen the following
Japanese films being selected:
Ryuhei Kitamura’s “Azumi”
Hirokazu Koreeda’s “After Life (aka Wonderful Life)”
Naoko Ogigami’s “Glasses”
Takeshi Kitano’s “Brother”
Shinya Tsukamoto’s “Tetsuo”
When I look at a list like this,
I really think that all of these films that
the Sundance Film Festival selected went on
to make reasonable sales worldwide.
By the way, I am sure that Sion Sono,
who is now creating a stir with his current film “Cold Fish”
had an early work called “Bicycle Sighs” selected.
The change of fortunes is quick, isn’t it?
The Sundance Film Festival, which once had a taste for this sort of film,
is now just interested in showing English language films.
However, very few of the selected films ever appear on
Japanese cinema screens as there is a decline
in the appreciation of such foreign films in Japan.
Sundance is held just up the mountain from Salt Lake City,
where the Winter Olympics were held, in Park City.
So I hope that the appearance of director Bong at the festival
sends a timely blast of hot Asian wind into these very, very cold environs!!