22 Recommended Films at this Year’s JIMFF

Suan Seol and Chun Jin-su, programmers at this year's Jecheon International Music and Movie Festival recommend their favorite films of this year's festival beginning August 8th.

The 15th Jechon International Music and Film Festival gets underway in less than a week with a fantastic line-up of film and music.

The festival will show 127 music films at Megabox Jecheon and Cheongpung Lakeside Stage; also JIMFF will present various music programs by more than 30 teams.

The festival runs from August 8th to the 13th.

Here are 22 films recommended by two of the main programmers to check out.

Suan Seol — 9 Recommended Films From the Programmer

Suan Seol, the programmer of 15th JIMFF, recommends 9 films that audiences should watch this year. Among 127 films from 37 countries, she selected films in 3 sections including “Korean Music Film Now”, and “Theme & Variations: Music as Resistance”.

“Korean Music Film Now” exhibits the diversity of contemporary Korean music film and the way they handle their music. “Theme & Variations: Music as Resistance” provides an opportunity to ponder upon the reason why resistance music is yet valid in contemporary Asia.

1. A Punk Daydream – “World Music Film Today-International Competition”

The film shows the facet of Indonesian youth culture that does not belong to the repressive mainstream society. For these young people, who are not even recognized by their families, punk culture is a struggle to confirm their existence. This film gives the audiences a chance to consider the meaning of not only punk music but also subcultures such as tattoos and piercings.

2. The Art of Loving – “Korean Music Film Now”

The film starts with two different partings, about the process of accepting a break-up and making a compilation album. This soft, sometimes comical film, which looks like a melodrama, delicately depicts how an individual’s inner self is sublimated into the creative process of music and how it changes during the process. If you follow the main character’s mind, you will be moved by a song at the end of the film.

3. Shining Ground – “Korean Music Film Now”

Director Jang Dong Ju, who captured the reality of hip-hop musicians in his short film Onesun (2018) centering on a hip-hop club run by Onesun, goes a step further into the hip-hop scene by this film. The audiences may see interesting behind-the-scenes footage of the hip-hop scene, including rough talks in the field and sharp lyrics made by the musicians. It’s a film about hip-hop musicians, a film about their close friendship, and the reality of the young people who stick to their dreams while facing difficulties inside society.

4. ByulBang facilities – “Korean Music Film Now”

The film depicts the changing situations in Jeju Island through a young man’s viewpoint towards his father’s construction site. The experience of one family facing a huge amount of sudden immigration from the shore to Jeju island is melt in the film. The song which is sung by Jeju dialect represents the complicated feelings and the delicate beauty of Jeju Island.

5. The Boys – “Korean Music Film Now”

There are many other gateways to go through before the birth of idol who has fandom in both appearance and voice. The film shows a facet of an idol culture where competition between trainees of the agency and the arousing jealousy among them. It also criticizes the reality of the music industry, which is focused on competition and showing off, led by audition programs.

6. Transparent Music – “Korean Music Film Now”

A film that recorded live streaming performances. Breaking the traditional closed concert hall and the one-sided performer-listener relationship, the film tries to suggest a new form of music and relationships for those who take part in the performance.

7. Metal Politics Taiwan – “Theme & Variations: Music as Resistance”

A documentary film about the activities of Freddy Lim, a Taiwanese heavy metal band’s lead singer as well as a politician. As the audiences experience the intersection of art and political action through two characters that do not overlap at first, they would soon understand how the value of music can be applied to politics. Freddy Lim’s wonderful performance is also a charming spectacle.

8. Woodstock – “Theme & Variations: Music as Resistance”

This documentary film depicts the cultural scandal of the century, Woodstock Festival and provides a rare opportunity to enjoy the high-profile performances of legendary musicians, including Janis Joplin, The Who and Jimi Hendrix by screen. The film combines the stories of the people who participated in the festival that happened in 3 days and shows why Woodstock is still remembered as a cultural icon of resistance beyond a simple musical performance.

9. Re-sound – “Theme & Variations: Music as Resistance”

In late 2016, Gwanghwamun, South Korea, there was mixed moments of excitement with the star-studded performance and a touching mood after the song “Morning Dew”. The film goes back to the roots of protests that had made this scene happen. Listening to the songs such as “When the day comes”, “Four Seasons” and watching the scenery of the past protests lets people question about the relationship between art and politics.

Chun Jin-su — 13 Recommended Films From the Programmer

Chun Jin-su, the programmer of 15th JIMFF, recommends 13 films that audiences should watch this year. Among 127 films from 37 countries, he selects highly anticipated films such as the opening film Inna de Yard – The Soul of Jamaica, as well as films in the program “Cinema Concert” that will be accompanied by the performance of Marcin Pukaluk, a professional silent film musician.

1. Inna de Yard – The Soul of Jamaica – The Opening Film

Inna de Yard in Kingston, Jamaica, is a sacred place for reggae music. Even though it is squalid, records are heaped up, and recording equipment is shabby, first-generation reggae musicians who performed with Bob Marley, the symbol of reggae, still play and record music with their juniors in Inna de Yard. Director Peter Webber, who drew attention for his works Hannibal Rising (2007) and Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003), visits the site and shows the origin of reggae music through the first generation musicians. Just like the director Beam Benders did for Buena Vista Social Club (1999). As viewers enjoy Jamaica’s beautiful scenery, their wonderful performances, and their inspiring life story, what a musician said in an interview leaves behind an afterglow, “Some countries have oil, some countries have pearls, but we have reggae music.”

2. Mr. Jimmy – “World Music Film Today-International Competition”

Mr. Jimmy tells the story of Akio Sakurai, who thoroughly admires the legendary rock band, Led Zeppelin and especially the guitarist Jimmy Page. He has been playing guitar for 30 years, copying all of their performances under the theory that Led Zeppelin is a band focused on performances rather than albums. Then, he wins the honor of playing in front of Jimmy Page and starts a full-scale copy performance of him. The image of “Mr. Jimmy,” which shows the maximum that a passionate fan can do, goes beyond simple joy and even brings awe. It’s an interesting documentary that fans of Led Zeppelin can’t miss.

3. Piazzolla, the Years of the Shark – “World Music Film Today-International Competition”

The documentary’s original title was Piazzolla, the Age of Sharks because Piazzolla thinks, “If you can’t fish a shark, you can’t even lift a bandoneon.” Although Piazzolla was once fiercely criticized for not performing traditional tango for his various musical experiments, the name Piazzolla itself equals tango around the world. The film combines the turbulent life and great music of Piazzolla that has elevated tango from simple dance music to art.

4. Sabre Dance – “World Music Film Today-International Competition”

Aram Khachaturian, a native of Armenia, is considered one of the composers who represent the former Soviet Union in the 1940s and 50s, along with Shostakovich. Much influenced by folk music in Armenia, Turkey, Georgia and elsewhere, his music is touching with its liveliness and colors. The film dramatizes how he originated “Gayane,” ballet music that includes the masterpiece “Sabre Dance” in a shelter during World War II. The film shows an artist’s passion for overcoming devastated era and creating a masterpiece as well.

5. The Conductor – “Cine Symphony”

Why, unlike pianists or violinists, is it hard to see a woman leading an orchestra? The Conductor tries to find the answer by dramatizing the life of Antonia Brico, the first female conductor from Netherland. Audiences may meet the struggle and effort of the female conductor who is armed with much courage in the society where male-oriented prejudice dominates.

6. My Foolish Heart – “Cine Symphony”

The Jazz trumpet player Chet Baker passed away in Amsterdam in 1988. However, about his death, many questions arise, such as whether it was a suicide or an accident. His death is more mysterious because it happened when he actively performed with the nickname “James Dean of Jazz” after going through hard times: he had lost his teeth in a series of gangsters’ attacks, and he had repeated over retirement and comeback. My Foolish Heart is an attractive film like his beloved but not existing live performance, which made Chet Baker’s last moment in Amsterdam a mystery drama.

7. The White Crow – “Cine Symphony”

Rudolph Nureyev (1938-1993) was a dancer who represented not only Russian ballet but also the whole ballet world after the Russian dancer Vatslav Nizhinskii. The film shows Nureyev’s dramatic defection to Paris under KGB’s surveillance in 1961 when he first visited the West as a member of the Kirov Ballet. Audiences can feel the artistic soul of the world-class dancer who tried to express himself escaping from oppression and restraint.

8. Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars – “Music in Sight”

Eric Clapton was revered as the god of a guitar in the late 1960s when he performed in the bands Cream and Blind Faith, and as releasing numerous hit songs, he was loved around the world. However, he also has lived a dramatic life, including his affair with his friend George Harrison’s wife, addiction to drugs and alcohol and his young son’s death. The documentary shows the path the top guitarist has taken and the musical achievements he has made through vast private collections that have not been made public.

9. Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes – “Music in Sight”

Celebrating the 80th anniversary of its foundation, the Blues Note Records is not a simple jazz record label, but an icon of culture that has passed through from the 1950s to the present time with its artistic record jackets and legendary performances that will last in the jazz history. The excellent documentary, directed by Sophie Huber, shows the stories of musicians such as Art Blakey, John Coltrane, and Norah Jones as well as the history of Blue Notes and its influences on the field. The best present to excite jazz fans!

10. Where are you, Joao Gilberto? – “Music in Sight”

  On July 6th, 2019 the news broke out that João Gilberto passed away at the age of 88. Since he had released his first album in 1958, he has been called “The God of Bossa Nova” or “The Father of Bossa Nova,” and has left a number of famous Bossa Nova songs, including “Hello for Sadness,” “Hobala”, and “Fire.” Based on a book about a desperate German writer’s journey to find Gilberto who lived in seclusion, the director searches Gilberto and recounts his life and music.

11. Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool – “Music in Sight”

“Birth of the Cool” is the title of Miles Davis’ first album in 1950 which was released under his name. As a top jazz trumpeter Miles was sometimes self-righteous and experimental, and he was a musician who constantly struggled to expand the genre of jazz. Through various undisclosed materials, the film highlights the path and achievements of Miles Davis. It’s a “cool” documentary to feel the charm of Miles Davis, who was an icon of the times beyond a simple jazz player.

12. LA LA LA – “Music in Sight”

After Jazz Singer in 1927, sound began to join films, and in the 1930s, musical films that combined music and dance appeared. It’s a must-see film for musical fans; with history, country-specific features and legendary actors of musical, it includes interviews of the director Damien Chazelle of La La land (2016), and the music director Michel Legrand of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964). Also it shows masterpieces of musical films that will remain in the film history.

13. The Self-Seeker (1927) & The Polish Dancer (1917) with Marcin Pukaluk’s Accompaniment

– “Cinema Concert”

“Cinema Concert” which has been JIMFF’s symbolic program since 2006, actualizes the most classic form of film music through screenings accompanied by live music performances. 15th JIMFF will introduce two films accompanied by the performance of Marcin Pukaluk: The Self-Seeker (1927), a comedy film created in the Soviet Union; and The Polish Dancer (1917), a romance movie made in Poland. Pukaluk is a silent film music specialized musician who blends various music genre such as classical, folk, pop and other for film music.

Movie images courtesy of JIMFF

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