Korean Film Archive to Hold International Seminar on Restoration in Digital Age

The South Korean state-backed organization will invite top Asian experts to discuss the future of archiving films, in addition to reviving a 1950s-style sound mixing studio for its 40th anniversary.

SEOUL -- The Korean Film Archive (KOFA) will discuss the future of film restorations with top experts from around Asia, in an international symposium held in celebration of its 40th anniversary.

Founded in 1974 as the Korean Film Depository, the South Korean state-backed non-profit organization has been at the forefront of collecting, archiving, researching and restoring Korean movies. In recent years KOFA has collaborated with various international cineastes and film bodies for restoration projects. Kim Ki-young's 1950 The Housemaid got a digital facelift under the auspices of Martin Scorsese in 2007, while earlier this year a copy of the 1960s smash hit Sorrow Even Up in Heaven was found in Taiwan after the original film was lost.

For its 40th anniversary, KOFA will host discussions about the meaning of archiving and restoring films in the digital age from May 22-23 at its cinematheque in Sangam-dong, Seoul.

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The first part of the symposium will feature specialists from Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan, who will share information on digital archival and restoration techniques employed in their respective countries. The second part of the conference will feature discussions and debates on the future of such endeavors, including how new media have influenced not only film archival procedures and related academic initiatives but also media education and society in general. The third section will feature talks on the overall future of media culture.

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Meanwhile, a showcase of 53 films will be held from May 22-July 3. It will open with Love With an Alien, a 1957 film that marked the first international collaboration between Korea and Hong Kong. Last year, Korea's oldest surviving feature film, Crossroads of Youth, was screened with narration and live music at the Berlinale to reenact silent film performances of the 1930s. This time, Love With an Alien will be shown in a way that recreates the sound-mixing techniques of the 1950s, with actors delivering lines and creating sound effects as if in a post-sync recording session.

A variety of other films, ranging from early silent films by Alfred Hitchcock to 3D projects from the 1970s, will be shown. From May 22-August 10, a special exhibition will introduce KOFA's 40-year history through a step-by-step presentation of film archival and restoration procedures.