This year, March 23-31, The 15th Festival of Korean Cinema was held in Florence, Italy. This film festival introduces Korean films of various genres to Italy and makes a place for cultural exchanges between Korea and Italy. In this year's festival, forty-three Korean films were screened in four sections: Orizzonti Coreani, Independent Korea, Notte Horror, and Corto and Corti. A newly created K-Woman division, which deals with the status of women in the Korean film industry, was introduced this year.
The opening film of this year’s festival was Ji-jung, directed by Kim Ji-woon. The K-Woman section, a special exhibition of Korean women, was featured in a retrospective introducing Park Chan-wook's 15 short films and other Korean films. In this category, Lee Jae-yong's Killing Girl, Yun Jae-ho's Madame B, and Kim Tae-yong's Female Teacher films were introduced.
During the 8-day festival, Kim Ji-woon, Park Chan-wook, and many other directors were introduced as well.
The film Lucky, directed by Lee Kyeong-wook, won the Audience Award at the Florence Korean Film Festival. The director of the Korean Film Festival said, "I am proud that there are so many wonderful and diverse films in Korea. Lucky is one of the 10 favorite movies in the competition and it is the movie that the audience liked most." Lee Kee-wook, director of Lucky, said, "I am even more thrilled because the audience has given me the award. I was surprised that the Italian audience was smiling at the same scenes that Korean audiences liked and laughed".
This film festival is the longest running Korean film festival overseas. Ricardo Jelly, executive director of the first Korean film festival in Florence, made a big contribution. He said, "Fifteen years ago I invited Italian acquaintances to fill the seats, but now this event has grown to the point where I do not need advertisement". We can see how Korean movies have become more popular in Italy.
This film festival introduces a variety of Korean films from a time when Korean films had little or no recognition in Europe. The festival invited Korean leading film directors such as Kim Ki-duk, Lee Chang-dong, Kim Ji-woon, Bong Jun-ho, Lee Jae-yong and representative actors such as Jeon Do-yeon, Choi Min-shik and Song Gang-ho.Kim Dong-ho, who won the achievement award at the opening ceremony of the film festival this year said, "After Korea defeated Italy in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the Florence Korean Film Festival helped ease Italians feeling of dislike towards Korea. I am very proud of my role in sharing Korean movies".
The reason why Italians are so excited about Korean movies is that Korean films have different directing styles than commercialized Hollywood movies. Also, Italians are drawn to view the Korean films because they are very provocative unlike stereotypical movies. Presently, Korea is more known to Italy than in the past, and Italians interest in Korea and Korean culture has increased.
In the future, the festival will introduce more and more Korean films, directors, and actors to Italy. It will steadily hold a master class during the festival to broaden the understanding of specific directors and productions. This festival provides an opportunity for Korea and Italy to exchange films and in doing so, links the two countries together. We need to pay more attention to the Korean film festival in Florence.