* This post is written by David Teszar, one of the Korea Blog’s Worldwide Korea Bloggers.
Considering the fact that Hungarian film distributors tend to release only one Korean movie a year, Hungarian viewers have two options to watch contemporary Korean films on the big screen: the Titanic International Film Festival and the annual Korean Film Week, both held in Budapest. Supported by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korea Foundation and the Korean Film Council, this year the Embassy of the Republic of Korea has organized the Korean Film Week for the fourth time. Demonstrating the variety of New Korean Cinema, the selection for 2011 includes an incredibly popular, award-winning indie documentary (Old Partner), two powerful family dramas (My Friend & His Wife, Happy End), an entertaining action-comedy (My Girlfriend is an Agent) and an art-house production (Dream) by the world-renowned auteur Kim Ki-duk.
On November 28 I attended the opening ceremony at the Uránia National Film Theater (Terry Gilliam, the director of Brazil and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas referred to Uránia as the most beautiful cinema in Europe). After the speech of H. E. Nam Gwan-pyo, the newly appointed Ambassador to Hungary, the Embassy staff prepared a little gift for the Hungarian hallyu-fans: they screened a brief video message by none other than Han Hyo-joo, the lead of Dong Yi. This popular television drama was broadcasted by the Hungarian National Television (mtv), so the fans of this series were really surprised when Ms. Han addressed them and expressed her best wishes. She even mentioned that early next year a Korean Cultural Centre will be opened in Budapest to enhance the cultural understanding between the two countries.
The opening film was Old Partner, a humorous yet poetic depiction of a longstanding companionship between an elderly peasant couple and their ox in a Korean farming village. It was a huge success in Korea, it had started by showing on only seven screens but ended up attracting close to three million viewers, and became the biggest sleeper hit of 2009. In addition to that, Old Partner was the first Korean documentary feature to compete at the Sundance Film Festival. Organizers of the Sundance Film Festival introduced the movie as “a charming, heartbreaking, existential buddy tale that conveys the almost mystical inextricability of humans and nature.”
After the screening the Embassy held a big standing reception on the first floor of the Uránia National Film Theatre where they served Korean dishes such as kimbap, japchae, bulgogi and saeu jeon, along with the best Hungarian wines. It was a great evening! Check out the pictures below!