The winner of the 17th Seoul Eco Film Festival
We announce the winner of the International and Korean Competition.
Thanks again for all of the audience, filmmakers, and juries who support and visit the 17th Seoul Eco Film Festival.
A total of 11 films made it to the international competition finals this year, featuring a spectrum of films ranging from endangered dolphins to AI robots that already exist in our daily lives. Although not all of the works that made it to the finals could be seen in theaters, international competition jury members tried to evaluate them with the most equitable and fair standards possible. There were many films dealing with the changes in the environment surrounding us, including ecosystem being destroyed by human greed, endless struggles with large multinational corporations that threaten our daily lives, tense documentary tracking tightly intertwined international cartels, as well as migrants, workers, AI robots and mechanization, in a different way and in a new format.
It was very interesting that the categories of environmental films are expanding into various everyday life, including the working environment. We also thank the programmer for selecting challenging and experimental works. (Billy CHOI)
Jury’s Comment: The distinct force that supports Maxima is the presence of Maxima, a woman who has courageously resisted the giant American corporations. The preciousness of this protagonist is not only due to the fact that a humble aboriginal woman who has lived as part of nature has continued to fight against the world’s largest gold mine company. What moves us is not the militant aspect of Maxima, but the value of ordinariness that her acts evoke repeatedly. The unwavering figure of a woman who lives in harmony with all lives without violating nature, in the land she has cultivated all her life with honest labor breaks down the logic and desire of huge capital, at least in this film. This small, steadfast woman and the vast nature surrounding her are a reminder to us that protecting her small territory and her everyday life means not giving up on the ever-present ecosystem, her neighbors, and even her human self-esteem. The film embraces the tired, lonely face of a human being shaken by the never-ending fight while united in Maxima’s will and actions with all its might. We give our support to the film Maxima, and also express our deep respect for the beliefs and actions of Maxima, who must be still fighting in her daily life. (NAM Da Eun)
Special Jury Award
Waiting for the Carnival
Jury’s Comment: The winner of the Special Jury Award at the 17th Seoul Eco Film Festival is Waiting for the Carnival. This film is faithful to “listening” rather than “talking,” and the director’s attitude toward the characters stands out. Without subjective judgments or reservations, director Marcelo GOMES listens to self-employed workers and delineates their time filled with harsh labor with a warm gaze. Portraying unique South American vitality and optimistic temperament, and using humorous communication between director and characters, effective overlap with the past and the present, and camera work that maintains proper observer’s distance, the film makes the audiences never feel uneasy about the uncomfortable truth of the people who are becoming the voluntary victim of money. This is a wonderful achievement and precious virtue of Waiting for the Carnival. After the carnival, the workers who sit in front of the sewing machine waiting for the next year’s carnival will remain in our minds for a long time. Although it was not selected as the winner, another work that the judges noticed was Ridge. We recognize director John SKOOG, for showing us a sensuous and experimental work that deviates from the typical documentary style of environmental films. (Ji Hye Won)
NESPRESSO Audience’s Choice
A total of 321 works, including long and short films, were presented in the Korean Competition section of the 17th Seoul Eco Film Festival. The figure is up 20 percent from last year. Among them were six documentary films, Musoon, Across the Universe, Memories of Four Days, Underground, Us, Day by Day, Wolsong, The Vanishing Village and Letters to Buriram. There were many differences in theme and style in each films. There were films that delved directly into environmental issues, and films that did not directly deal with environmental issues but talked about human conditions and life.
The Korean Competition Grand Prize were awarded to Wolsong, The Vanishing Village. Directors NAM Taeje and director KIM Sunghwan skillfully interweave the struggle for survival of the people living near the Wolseong nuclear power plant, and yet not losing their dignity as human beings, along with images that suggest silent threats and instability at the nuclear power plant. The film shows the horrendous reality of the residents exposed to radiation, but at the same time it also has social participation, educational aspects and fun and ultimately takes a profound look at the relationship between humans and nuclear power generation and the natural world. The last moment that shakes one’s heart not only expresses despair but also hope, leaving a feeling of emotion and lingering imagery. The judges unanimously agreed that the 17th SEFF’s Korean Competition Grand Prize should be awarded for this work which showed the nuclear power issue, one of the most urgent and fatal among the various environmental issues facing mankind.
The Korean Competition Excellence Prize went to Underground directed by KIM Jeongkeun. The film interestingly tracks the unstable working environment, which is gradually becoming hierarchical within the “industrial ecosystem,” focusing on the subway, which is an important means of transportation and environment in the daily lives of urban residents. While calmly showing the huge machinery world, maintenance sites and dark railways of the Busan Metropolitan Railway that we have never seen before, the film unravels the job insecurity faced by technical trainees, non-regular mechanics, station workers, cleaning workers and drivers. The film, which is also a virtue of the rich mise-en-scene, a modernized labor scene, the elegant rhythm of editing and restrained sound design, reflects on the meaning of the labor environment.
Congratulations on the two award-winning works, and cheers for the other films in competition. In the midst of the severe climate crisis and the destruction of the ecosystem, I hope we can see films that illuminate our reality and give courage and wisdom to find answers at next year’s Seoul Eco Film Festival. And I sincerely support and thank creators who do not put down their cameras even during the COVID19 era. (HWANG Yun)
Wolsong, The Vanishing Village
NAM Taeje, KIM Sunghwan
Jury’s Comment: The winner of the Grand Prize is Wolsong, The Vanishing Village, a haunting documentary that brings attention to one of the most urgent and challenging environmental issues of our time. Directors NAM Taeje and KIM Sunghwan deftly juxtapose the spirited determination and dignity of the village’s residents with the silent, foreboding image of the power plant that threatens to destroy their way of life. The film is at once engaging and harrowing, educational and entertaining, and, ultimately, a profoundly important examination of the relationship between humans, nuclear power, and the natural world. The stirring final moments of the film are heartbreaking and inspiring, expressing not just despair, but also hope. (Daniel MARTIN)
Jury’s Comment: Underground tracks the unstable working environment, which is gradually becoming hierarchical within the “industrial ecosystem,” focusing on subways that are indispensable in the urban daily lives. While calmly showing the huge machinery world, maintenance sites, and dark railways of the Busan Metropolitan Railway that we have never seen before, the film calmly unravels the job insecurity agenda faced by technical trainees, non-regular mechanics, station workers and cleaning workers. The past, when ticket offices were closed and employees were laid off under automation, foreshadows the loss of a driver’s job due to unmanned technology. The film’s virtues include rich mise-en-scene, the subtle rhythm of editing, proper sequence structure, and restrained sound design. Above all, the tension of approaching the topic is outstanding. It is a beautiful film that reflects on the meaning of the worker’s sincere life and labor. (KIM Eun Young)
NH Bank Special Audience Jury Award
Jury’s Comment: Underground illuminates the subway, which is the most familiar environment, as a place of labor. Unlike most documentaries that deliver information focusing on interviews and narration, the film pursues cinematic beauty focusing on the space and human. Refrained from excessive or emotional explanations, this film does its best to capture the daily lives and voices of workers. It clearly presents the agenda for the working environment with a parallel structure of various generations of workers in different places in the underground. It has a great composition encompassing the entire labor structure that starts with technical school students who are ready to become non-regular employees to end up as middle-aged full-time workers whose positions are at stake due to unmanned technology. The film does not appeal to act immediately on the regularization of non-regular workers and the reduction of manpower caused by automated technology. It reminds the audience to reflect on the working environment by leaving a long lingering impression through the quiet images of the workers. (YUN Soyoung)