The London Korean Film Festival 2012 Opening Gala:
‘The Thieves’ screening, Q&A and Gala Reception:
Thursday, November 1st 2012: And so begins the 7th annual London Korean Film Festival.
In the years since the it began in 2005, the London Korean Film Festival has gone from strength-to-strength; culminating in this year’s star-studded event, the start of which consisted of a Gala screening of the exhilarating crime/action/drama ‘The Thieves’ (도둑들, 2012, Directed by Choi Dong-hoon and starring some of the biggest, most illustrious names in Korean Cinema today: Kim Yoon-suk, Jeon Ji-hyun, Kim Hye-soo, Lee Jung-jae, Kim Hae-sook Oh Dal-soo and Kim soo-hyun).
(Also, many thanks to Kim Seong-jin of the Korean Cultural Centre UK, for supplying me with and allowing me to use her exquisite LKFF lanyard image, which you can see at either side of these pages.)
The screening and Director/Actor Q&A (which was also the film’s European premiere) took place at the Odeon West End, Leicester Square, London; the cinema having been decked out in true Leicester Square Premiere style, complete with red carpet.
As I watched the crowds begin to gather (the event was sold out days before), it was wonderful to notice that as well as the Korean Cinema aficionados standing at the barrier waiting for the VIP guests to arrive, there were also a number of passers-by and tourists who stood and waited in line; obviously to see “someone famous” walk up the red carpet. Here’s hoping that later in the festival and in subsequent years they will be standing watching the red carpet events before proceeding into the screenings themselves.
And as to the film ‘The Thieves’ itself? ‘The Thieves has already sold more than 13 million seats in Korea, and it’s easy to see why: Rarely in recent years has there been such a heart-poundingly entertaining Korean film that is at the same time consistently funny and gripping throughout.
‘The Thieves’ Synopsis (courtesy of the Korean Cultural Centre UK):
A band of infamous Korean thieves headed by Popie receives an irresistible offer from Macao Park, a former partner, to steal the ‘Tear of the Sun’; a 318-carat diamond worth $20m, hidden in a Macao casino, and they do not even hesitate to take up the offer.
Once the team is assembled (Popie along with female wall-climber Yenicall, tactician Zampano and master of disguise Chewinggum), Macao Park lets them in on the plan, but troubles are aplenty as Popie and Macao park soon begin to butt heads and, all the while like every other member of the team, Yenicall begins to formulate her own plan to keep the diamond for herself...
The capacity crowd at the Odeon West End clearly loved the film – with cries of surprise; excitement and laughter regularly being heard throughout the beautiful auditorium. And as for the effect bare-chested scenes of male casts members had on female members of the audience on more than ne occasion? I think you can probably guess without me saying another word.
The post-screening Q&A was an informative and lively affair with both Choi Dong-hoon and Kim Yoon-suk clearly enjoying their time with the audience and answering questions on all aspects of the film and filmmaking process; with a great deal of humour throughout.
Prior to the screening and Q&A, I was incredibly honoured to be given the opportunity to interview director Choi Dong-hoon and actor Kim Yoon-suk individually (each interview lasting for 20 minutes) at the Korean Cultural Centre UK and found them both to be deeply excited to have the film opening the London Korean Film Festival 2012: Their informed yet relaxed and full of fun attitudes (and anecdotes) made the interviews a pleasure to undertake and transcriptions of both will be available in the ‘LKFF Interviews’ sub-section of the Hangul Celluloid site within the next couple of days.
The Opening Gala concluded with a Gala Reception at the at the Radison Blu Edwardian Hampshire Restaurant where drinks and canapés were served (I am partial to a canapé or 12); a raffle was held (Annabel Harrison, of KCMassive, winning a trip to Busan next year) and the taking of hand prints of Choi Dong-hoon and Kim Yoon-sook was undertaken to be cast in bronze and adorn the walls at the Korean Cultural Centre UK.
All in all, the best opening night of the London Korean Film Festival yet and a stunning and exhilarating start to this year’s festival. See you at the LKFF!