Preview: Korean Films at TIFF 2017

**Please note: this article with be updated if anything changes.**

It’s that time of year again, time to start planning which films I want to see at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). I love TIFF because there’s always such an interesting selection of films, there’s something for everyone. However, I will admit that I’m a little disappointed in the fact that there’s only two (2) Korean films this year. However, there’s still some great films to watch and both Korean film sound interesting.

Plus there’s a very interesting sounding film by Korean-American film and music video director Joseph Kahn, and a couple of films that have Korean-Canadians in the cast so it’s shaping up to be another great festival.

To help you out – because even though there are less films in general at TIFF this year, not just Korean films – we’ve put together a preview of the Korean films, films from the Korean diaspora, and films that feature a Korean, Korean-Canadian and/or Korean-American actors. Basically, we are your one-stop TIFF planner for all things Korean. ^^

Keep reading to find out all about the films (and one short).

Korean Feature Films

Courtesy of TIFF

The Day After (그 후)

Hong Sangsoo | South Korea | 92 minutes | BW | Korean | North American Premiere

TIFF’s intro of the film: Prolific Korean master Hong Sangsoo’s conversational comedy of errors intertwines the stories of an unfaithful publishing company manager and his new assistant, whom his wife mistakes as his former lover. For more info, check out TIFF’s website.

My Thoughts: Hong Sangsoo’s films are generally quite interesting glimpses into relationships and character. And as the film premiered at Cannes, I’m sure it’s no different.

Schedule:

  • Wednesday, September 13 @ 6:30 pm – Scotiabank Theatre 1
  • Thursday, September 14 @ 9:15 pm – Scotiabank Theatre 2
  • Saturday, September 16 @ 3:15 pm – Scotiabank Theatre 3

In attendance:

  • None listed
Courtesy of TIFF

The Poet and the Boy (시인의 사랑)

Kim Yang-hee | South Korea | 110 minutes | 2017 | Colour | Korean | International Premiere

TIFF’s intro of the film: A married poet meets a teenage boy working at a donut shop and helplessly develops feelings for him, in the latest from Kim Yang-hee. For more info, check out TIFF’s website.

My Thoughts: I’m always interested in films by female directors and since the main characters in this film are male, it really intrigues me.

Schedule:

  • Monday, September 11 @ 9:30 pm – Scotiabank Theatre 10
  • Wednesday, September 13 @ 1:00 pm – TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 4
  • Sunday, September 17 @ 12:00 pm – Scotiabank Theatre 7

In attendance:

  • Director Kim Yang-hee

Korean Shorts

Courtesy of TIFF

(100ft) – part of the Wavelengths 3: Figures in a Landscape event

Minjung Kim | South Korea, USA | 3 minutes | 2016 | Silent | North American Premiere

TIFF’s intro of the film: Minjung Kim’s (100ft) consists of a single uninterrupted shot, lasting an entire 100ft roll of 16mm film, as two figures with different sized feet traverse a vast, striated landscape. For more info, check out TIFF’s website.

My Thoughts: TIFF’s shorts and Wavelengths programmes are always interesting

Schedule:

  • Sunday, September 10 @ 7:15 pm – TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 3

In attendance:

  • None listed

Films Involving the Korean Diaspora or Korean Actors

Courtesy of TIFF

Bodied

Joseph Kahn | USA | 121 minutes | 2016 | Colour | English | World Premiere

TIFF’s intro of the film: A satirical exploration of the world’s most artistically brutal sport — battle rapping — from music video director Joseph Kahn, based on a script by Toronto rapper Alex Larsen (Kid Twist) and produced by Eminem. For more info, check out TIFF’s website.

My Thoughts: Um, it’s directed by Joseph Kahn who has directed like a gazillion music videos and stars Dumbfoundead among others. Plus there’s a rap battle on September 7th between Toronto rapper Alex Larsen (Kid Twist) and battle rapper Madness to promote it. How cool is that?!

Schedule:

  • Thursday, September 7 @ 11:59 pm – Ryerson Theatre
  • Saturday, September 9 @ 1:45 pm – Scotiabank Theatre 4
  • Thursday, September 4 @ 8:15 pm – Scotiabank Theatre 1

In attendance:

  • Director Joseph Kahn, Dumfoundead, and pretty much the entire cast
Courtesy of TIFF

Meditation Park

Mina Shum | Canada | 94 minutes | 2017 | Colour | English, Cantonese, Mandarin | World Premiere

TIFF’s intro of the film: Mina Shum directs an all-star cast — including Cheng Pei Pei, Sandra Oh, Tzi Ma, and Don McKellar — in her latest feature, about a devoted wife and mother (Pei Pei) who is forced to reassess her reverence for her husband after she finds another woman’s thong in his laundry. For more info, check out TIFF’s website.

My Thoughts: The director is Canadian. I loved her film, Double Happiness. The cast includes Sandra Oh (who was also in Double Happiness) and Don McKellar. What’s not to love? Plus the full synopsis sounds interesting.

Schedule:

  • Monday, September 11 @ 6:45 pm – Scotiabank Theatre 2
  • Wednesday, September 13 @ 9:30 pm – Scotiabank Theatre 11
  • Friday, September 15 @ 11:45 am – Scotiabank Theatre 13

In attendance:

  • Director Mina Shum, Don McKellar
Courtesy of TIFF

Public Schooled

Kyle Rideout | Canada | 86 minutes | 2017 | Colour | English | World Premiere

TIFF’s intro of the film: After being homeschooled his whole life, wannabe physicist Liam (Daniel Doheny) “drops out” and enrolls in public school to chase the girl of his dreams, in this hilarious and heartwarming comedy from Kyle Rideout (Eadweard). For more info, check out TIFF’s website.

My Thoughts: A Canadian romantic comedy about homeschooling that includes Grace Park, Andrea Bang and Russell Peters in the supporting cast… yep, it’s on my list.

Schedule:

  • Saturday, September 9 @ 4:30 pm – Jackman Hall
  • Monday, September 11 @ 6:15 pm – Scotiabank Theatre 8
  • Saturday, September 16 @ 5:30 pm – Scotiabank Theatre 11

In attendance:

  • Director Kyle Rideout, Grace Park and many others from the cast
Courtesy of TIFF

Manhunt

John Woo | Hong Kong, China | 106 minutes | 2017 | Colour | Japanese, English, Mandarin | North American Premiere

TIFF’s intro of the film: Action maestro John Woo returns to the mold of his classic The Killer with this remake of a classic 1970s Japanese thriller, about an innocent man who sets out to clear his name after his is framed for robbery and rape. For more info, check out TIFF’s website.

My Thoughts: I’m a big fan of John Woo (and action films in general) so it would have intrigued me even if Ha Jiwon (하지원) wasn’t in it.

Schedule:

  • Thursday, September 14 @ 9:00 pm – Visa Screening Room (POW)
  • Friday, September 15 @ 11:45 am – Scotiabank Theatre 2

In attendance:

  • None listed

Final Thoughts

There’s less Korean films coming to TIFF this year but the above films are just the tip of the film fun available. I’m already having troubles deciding which films I’m most excited for, and I’ve only talked about six of the 255 feature films playing this year at TIFF. While that may be down from last year’s 296, there’s still a lot of fabulous and interesting films to intrigue just about everyone. If I had to pick just one film from the six listed above, I’d definitely go with Bodied (but I love both music and film so it was a no-brainer). But truly, I can’t wait to see all the films I just talked about… and many more screening this year.

Which film playing at TIFF – Korean or otherwise – are you looking forward to most? Don’t worry, you can choose more than one! I know I’ll end up seeing a dozen or so. ^^

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday – this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it’s taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I’m the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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