JIFF announces 2008 lineup


SEOUL -- The ninth Jeonju International Film Festival unveiled its 2008 lineup Tuesday, featuring an increased focus on its competitive section and developing new filmmakers.

Opening the festival is Manda Kunitoshi’s “The Kiss,” and closing it is the world premiere of “If You Were Me 4,” the latest anthology produced by Korea’s National Human Rights Commission.

Located about four hours by car south of Seoul, JIFF runs May 1 to 9 and features 120 feature films and 75 shorts from 40 countries. Organizers said that submissions rose over 14% this year to 1,035, from Korea and abroad.

This year’s Jeonju Digital Project, where JIFF sponsors three filmmakers to make digital short films, features African filmmakers for the first time – Idrissa Ouedraogo from Burkina Faso, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun of Chad, and Nacer Khemir from Tunisia.

Other special programs include retrospectives of Bela Tarr and Alexander Kluge, as well as looks at Central Asian and Vietnamese cinema.

Making its debut this year is the Work in Progress section, showcasing low budget and independent films still in progress, bringing together directors, producers and film festival officials to support up-and-coming filmmakers.

“We’d like to make a point of providing help to independent filmmakers,” said Jung Soo-won, executive programmer of JIFF. “This year we’ve invited mostly Korean producers, but next year we would like to expand it to other countries.”

Another change this year is the transformation of the IndieVision section to International Competition.

All told, about $60,000 worth of prizes is up for grabs this year, in a wide array of categories.

The number of industry screenings will also be increased.

Despite increased competition for government funds in Korea, the Jeonju city government upped its sponsorship of JIFF by $300,000 this year, bringing the festival’s total budget to nearly $3 million, the highest ever.

“It’s because we have developed a good reputation among audiences, critics and filmmakers,” said Jung. “So Jeonju thinks the festival is good promotion for the city.”