Women and Documentaries Dominate Prizes at Jeonju Film Festival

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Documentaries and pictures made by female filmmakers dominated the prize ranks of South Korea’s Jeonju International Film Festival. Some, including “Splinters” which won the festival’s Grand Prize, were qualified on both counts.

“Splinters” aka “Esquirlas,” is an Argentinian-made documentary about the military-industrial complex, which premiered last year at the Mar Del Plata festival. It emerged as an expansion of a home video shot by director Natalia Garayalde, who recorded the explosion of an arms factory in 1995, when she was 12 years old.

Another documentary, Marta Popivoda’s “Landscapes of Resistance,” took the best picture award in the festival’s international competition.

A third film, “Friends and Strangers,” took the special jury prize. Directed by James Vaughan, the black comedy is pitched as a depiction of current day Australia from the viewpoint of Millennials.

The festival kicked off on April 29, 2021 and runs until Saturday (May 9) when it will close with animation film “Josep” directed by Aurel. It tells a fictional story based on the life of historical Spanish illustrator Josep Bartoli.

The festival operated as a hybrid event mixing in-person and online activities and showcased 194 titles. Some 142 of these will continue to be screened online for a limited period, in Korea only, via local streaming platform Wavve.

In the separate Korean competition, the grand prize went to “Kim Min-young of the Report Card,” by women directors Lee Jae-eun and Lim Jisun. The film tells the story of high school best friends who end up going separate ways after graduation.

Byun Gyuri’s “Coming to You,” about a group of LGBTQ parents, received both a special mention in the Korean section and the festival’s documentary award. It was produced by PINKS (Solidarity For Sexually Minor Cultures & Human Rights).

The best actor prize was awarded to Jeong Jaekwang of “Not Out” and Gong Seung-yeon of “Aloners,” a film made by a woman filmmaker with a female character as the protagonist. “Aloners” also picked up the CGV Arthouse award.

“A Blue Giant,” which won the special jury prize in the Korean competition for shorts, “Teacher’s Day,” which won one of the J Vision awards, and “Maria&Beyonce,” which was one of the winners of Watcha’s Pick: short film prizes, were all directed by female filmmakers as well, the festival noted.