Contemporary South Korea Cinema at La Compagnia

March 21-28: FLORENCE KOREA FILM FESTIVAL.  Cinema La Compagnia, via Cavour 50/r.

This month, 45 movies from some of the greatest South Korean cinema masters arrive for the annual film festival held in Florence.

The event will showcase entries ranging from shorts to feature films, screened with both English and Italian subtitles. Many of these movies will be having their Italian premiere at the festival with their directors, producers, and actors in attendance.

The emphasis of a majority of the works to be shown is contemporary Korean society.

Great names make up the setlist, with works from the artistic eccentricity of Kim Ki-duk, psychological and naturalism of Lee Chang-dong, and domestic realism of Hong Sang-soo.

The edition’s theme is “Imagining Korea – Beyond the People’s, the Earth, and the Time.”  The event offers an opportunity to unite and understand different cultures through cinema.

The 17th edition of festival begins on March 21 with the Italian premiere of “Swing Kids,” a musical drama about a rebellious North Korean soldier in the Geoje Prison Camp who meets a soldier who was on Broadway and falls in love with tap-dancing. The film will play at 9:30 pm on March 21 and 3:30 pm on March 26.

There will be a screening at 8 pm on March 22 of director Kim Jee-woon’s latest project, “Illang: The Wolf Brigade,” a sci-fi film whose protagonist is played by Korean star Jung Woo-sung, who will be presenting the film alongside Jee-woon as a special guest.

An exciting new addition to this year’s Florence Korea film fest also offers the opportunity to attend a masterclass with Jung Woo-Sung, and director Riccardo Gelli on March 23 at 11 am. Jung Woo-sung is an actor, director, producer, and model, and sometimes compared to a sort of Korean James Dean character in his movies. The two will speak on the important stages of their careers and the increasing popularity of Korean cinema. Admission is €5 for the public with a mandatory reservation at

As technology advances, the event can now offer the new virtual reality experience as a new way of watching and interacting with films. With high tech gear, the VR controllers and Samsung S9 technology, viewers can watch the movie from “the inside,” being able to see and move in any direction.  The audience can find a new perspective of the film, and partake in the next trend of movie watching. A thrilling collection of films will include “An Obituary,” ”Eyes in the Red Wind,” “Space X Girl,” and even “Bloodless,” a “Best VR Story” winner from the 2017 Venice Film Festival by Gina Kim.

Not just an entertainment event, the festival also focuses on a social justice movement through several of the entries. K-Society Focus presents topics like bullying, LGBTQ+ matters, dangers of the work world, and gender-based abuse towards children. Screening March 25 at 10:30 pm, “Two Weddings and a Funeral” touches on discrimination and the lives of two homosexual friends in a romantic comedy. Playing on March 28 at 5 pm,“Cart” focuses on the unjust treatment toward women in the workforce and tells an empowering story of women uniting to protest exploitation in the company that employs them.

During the festival, the public is encouraged to meet the producers and directors and will also be able to express their opinion regarding the best film. The entry with the most votes will be awarded the Asiana Airlines Audience award at the closing ceremony at La Compagnia cinema on Thursday, March 28 at 8:30 pm. The Festival Critics Award will be announced at that time as well.  Florence Korea will end with the 9 pm showing of “Beautiful Days,” a film by Jero Yun, where a Chinese son, at the request of his dying father, embarks on a search for his mother who he has not seen in 14 years. (nicole grant/additional reporting by kelsey lentz)