Seoul Independent Film Fest to Put Spotlight on Social Issues

Ken Loach's "The Spirit of '45" will screen as an out-of-competition title in Seoul.

The 39th edition of South Korea's largest independent film event will screen 117 movies with a focus on documentaries, while out-of-competition titles include Ken Loach's "The Spirit of '45."

SEOUL— The 39th edition of the Seoul Independent Film Festival (SIFF) is set to open here Thursday with a lineup that puts a spotlight on documentaries, especially ones focusing on social issues.

South Korea's biggest event for independent cinema this year attracted a record 810 submissions. From those, 117 films have been chosen to screen at festival venues CGV Apgujeong Movie Collage and Indiespace Gwanghwamun.

The festival will open with Romance in Seoul, an omnibus romance by seven directors, including Kim Tae-yong and Choi Si-hyung.

In the competition of the fest, nine homespun features and 45 shorts will vie for cash prizes amounting to 72 million won (about $68,000), which is up 16 million won ($15,000) from last year. Winners will be shown during the closing ceremony on Dec. 6.

A large portion of films focus on grim social issues in Korea, including rape, domestic violence, school bullying, the plight of migrant workers and dark moments in recent Korean history.

Out-of-competition works include 10 noted international titles, including The Spirit of '45 by Ken Loach (U.K.) and the Venice-winning Stray Dogs by Tsai Ming-liang (Taiwan).