‘The Major Tones’ and ‘Time to Be Strong’ Claim Jeonju Film Festival’s top Prizes

The Jeonju International Film Festival, South Korea’s second most important generalist film festival, on Tuesday announced “The Major Tones” and “Time to Be Strong” as the Grand Prix winners of its two competition sections

Published Time: 08.05.2024 - 14:31:22 Modified Time: 08.05.2024 - 14:31:22

The Jeonju International Film Festival, South Korea’s second most important generalist film festival, on Tuesday announced “The Major Tones” and “Time to Be Strong” as the Grand Prix winners of its two competition sections. The festival continues until Friday.

Directed by Argentina’s Ingrid Pokropek, “The Major Tones” is a mystery film about a youngster with a metal plate in her arm which begins to receive peculiar messages in Morse Code. It premiered at the Mar del Plata festival and also played in Berlin’s Generation KPlus section. In Jeonju it won the international section.

The Korean section was dominated by “Time to Be Strong,” the sophomore effort of director Namkoong Sun. In addition to the Korean competition’s Grand Prix, it also shared the best actor award and picked up the Watch award from a local streamer.

The film follows three former K-pop idol singers whose careers have failed and personal lives have sagged. They take a significantly belated midwinter school trip to Jeju Island, which becomes a journey of soul-searching and self-discovery. The film was part funded by Korea’s National Human Rights Commission.

Korea’s K-pop scene has attracted global fandom. But it has also been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons, notably its gruelling training system under so-called slave contracts with talent agencies, its difficult working conditions and the sometimes toxic social media that surrounds it. This combination may have caused several music stars to die by suicide.

“During my research, I was surprised to find out that about 100 people debut as part of an idol group each month. But the public only gets to know a small number of them. When you look deeper into the industry, the troubles and hardships they go through from a young age are just at another level,” Namkoong told the Korea Herald newspaper.

The festival prize-winners were selected by juries that included: actor-director Deragh Campbell; director Matias Pineiro, director Joao Pedro -

Rodrigues, actor and academic Yoo Jitae; director Hong Jiyoung; film reviewer Kim Haery; festival programmer Giovanna Fulvi; Singapore festival programmer Thong Kay Wee; actor Kim Saebyuk; director Nele Wohlatz; executive Jin Myunghyun; Thai archivist Chalida Uabumrungjit; Jeon Byoungwon, director of the Future Cinema Institute, and critic and publisher Jung Hongsoo.

Other prizes were also presented at the ceremony. These included the NETPAC Award, given to one of the Asian films in the non-competitive section, which went to“Punch Drunk,”directed by Adel Tabrizi, and, the Cineteca Nacional Mexico Award, given to director Kim Solhae and Lee Dojin’s“Deprivation.” The J Vision Award, which goes to one of the entries submitted from the local cinema, was won by Oh Jaewook’s“Unspoken.” The Documentary Award (sponsored by Jin Motors), went toKorean-made “Voices,” directed by Jee Hyewon.

The 25th Jeonju IFF International Competition Winners

Grand Prize“The Major Tones,” dir. Ingrid PokropekBest Picture Prize (Sponsored by NH Nonghyup)“Cu Li Never Cries,” dir. Pham Ngoc LanSpecial Jury Prize“Junkyard Dog,” dir. Jean-Baptiste Durand

The 25th Jeonju IFF Korean Competition Winners

Grand Prize“Time to Be Strong,” dir. Namkoong SunBest Actor Prize (joint winners)Choi Seung-eun in “Time to Be Strong”Na Ae-jin in “Silver Apricot”CGV Award“Sister Yujeong,” dir. Chung HaeilWatcha’s Pick“Time to Be Strong,” dir. Namkoong SunJury‘s Special Mention“A Chronicle in Spirals” dir. Kim YisoDistribution Support Prize (Sponsored by Jiwon)“Blanket Wearer” dir. Park Jeongmi.

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