DMZ Korean International Documentary Festival Opens Sept. 22

Held near the tense border between the Koreas, the event opens with 'After the Apocalypse.'

The Third DMZ Korean International Documentary Festival will open Sept. 22 to 28 in Paju, Gyeonggi province, a northern South Korean city bordering North Korea.

The event celebrating themes of peace, life and communication will show 100 documentary films from 30 countries around the world.

"The DMZ has symbolized the painful memories of war and was rather limited to the geographical confines of Gyeonggi province. But I hope it will be rediscovered as a place of reconciliation and exchange on the Korean Peninsula and in the world,’’ said the festival chairman and Gyeonggi Province governor Kim Moon-soo during a press conference in Seoul, Tuesday.

This year’s edition will open with British director Antony ButtsAfter the Apocalypse, a harrowing story of a woman living near a “polygon” or test site for nuclear weapons bordering Russia and Kazakhstan. Having been exposed to radiation she is advised to undergo a test to see if her unborn child is healthy.

The winner of the international competition section will close the festival.

Organizers said they received more than 430 submissions this year that touched upon various topics such as radiation, religious extremism, war, human rights, family, disease, labor and education. Of these 13 are vying for a cash prize of 22 million won.

Eight films will be competing for the 13 million won award in the Korean competition section while the youth competition invites six works for the 1 million won ($873) prize.

Out-of-competition films introduce films from around the world that are geared for not only adult audiences but children as well.

"I wanted to deliver stories with more depth and wider scope. In addition to screening documentaries we are offering diverse events that everyone, including local residents, can enjoy,’’ said festival director Cho Jae-hyun, the prolific actor known through films such as Kim Ki-duk’s Bad Guy.

Meanwhile, actor Yoo Ji-tae (Oldboy), the newly appointed co-festival director, said he hopes the festival brings more attention to the overlooked documentary genre.