In the spring time, Jeonju is tinged with yellow because of the opening of the Jeonju International Film Festival (JIFF). Thousands of visitors are escorted by JIFF volunteers in yellow jumpers. Jeonbuk has led the Korean movie industry since it was still in its infancy, and utmost efforts have been conducted to keep the fame until now. As a part of these efforts, JIFF distinguishes itself from other film festivals by supporting independent films. Consequently, Jeonbuk Independent Film Festival (JIFF) was created, and it has also become one of the representative Jeonbuk festivals. Let’s take a look at how Jeonbuk could become the center of movies.
● Film Capital ‘Jeollabuk-do’
It is no wonder that Jeonbuk has become the hub of films. The film industry of Jeonbuk started in Gunsan before the Korean War. At that time, Gunsan was exposed to foreign cultures more than Incheon or Busan. As a result, Gunsan opened an auditorium and theaters in Korea for the first time to show a movie. Then public film production studio of Jeonbuk and the Jeonju movie studio were naturally formed from this environment. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, as Jeonju remained very unique in traditional values like the aesthetic of slowness and hanok, the Korean traditional house, it has been spotlighted as a Mecca of movie production. In October 1953, starting with 'Arirang', many films settled down to produce in Jeonbuk. Lots of popular movie stars came to Jeonju and were fascinated with Jeonbuk. At that time, Jeonbuk had its golden age. Recently, Jeonbuk is trying hard to make new genre films such as independent films or alternative films to satisfy audiences’ expectations. Thus, Jeonbuk solidifies its position as a film capital.
● Jeonbuk’s Film Festival
- Jeonju International Film Festival (JIFF)
JIFF has sought differentiated features compared to other film festivals. JIFF found the answer and it was ‘independent films’, which are produced mostly outside of the major film studio system. They are distinguishable by their content and style, in which the film makers’ personal artistic visions are realized. As a result, now JIFF stands for the center of independent films all over the world. JIFF also plays a role as a window to introduce innovative and alternative movies. JIFF has presented a program called ‘Digital Three Persons, Three Colors’, which is aiming to produce, support and distribute digital films for international screenings. Also, another program, ‘Short! Short! Short!’, selects three talented Korean filmmakers every year and offers them opportunities to make their own unique short films. Through these various programs, JIFF is now recognized as the center of independent film festivals of Asia and the widest window of avant-garde cinema around the world.
- Jeonbuk Independent Film Festival (JIFF)
Jeonbuk Independent Film Festival started in 2001 with the name ‘Jeonbuk Citizen Film Festival’ and changed its name into JIFF in 2007. Its goal is offering chance to make films to general citizens, and it was the first try in Korea. In 2013, JIFF’s slogan was “Just as you speak, just as you make up your mind, just as you think,” and this slogan signifies that the movie is about freedom and a gushing of energy. Held annually in Jeonju, JIFF is celebrating its 15th edition this year. It is presenting 190 movies including 118 world premieres. The festival runs from May 1st to May 10th at a number of venues in Jeonju.
● Movie Studios in Jeonbuk
- Cinema Park: Buan
Buan Cinema Park applies the concept of a Korean folk village and film sets. This park was built in 2005 for the reappearance of Gyeongbokgung, Changdeok Palace, Yangban House, Lecture Hall, and other old structures. Thus, this park has been preferred for making historical films such as 'King and the Clown' and 'Masquerade'.
*Summer season 09:00~19:30 & Winter season 09:00~17:30 *Address: Jeollabukdo Buan-gun Byeonsan-myeon Kyokpori 309-64
- Prison Set: Iksan
This is the only prison setting to be used for the background of a dark movie filming, and is located in Iksan, Jeonbuk. This prison setting was built by Iksan city and a movie making company to produce the movie ‘Holiday’ in 2005. In the movie ‘Holiday’, the prison set was filmed when prisoners broke out of prison. Also, the movies named ‘Tazza’ and Miracle in Cell No.7’ were made here since the movie ‘Holiday’. It was the first to build a desolate place such as a prison for just making a movie in Korea. Thanks to its uniqueness in Korea, many dark movies usually were filmed at this set.
*10:00~17:00/ Monday, Tuesday Closed
*Address: Jeollabukdo Iksan-si Seongdang-myeon Wacho-ri 154-4
- Jeondong Catholic Church: Jeonju
Jeondong Catholic Church, a showpiece of grandeur of Romanesque style, is considered as one of the most beautiful churches in the Honam area. It is the oldest Western-style building and is registered as a historic place. The place is well known for a scene from the film ‘A Promise’, where the couple held their marriage at an empty cathedral. Thanks to the beauty and grand interior of Jeondong Cathedral, the film could be praised as a well-made movie.
*Address: Jeollabukdo Jeonju-si Wansan-gu Jeondong 200-1
- Japanese-style House in Sinheung-dong: Gunsan
Since Gunsan was a port city where Japan had plundered rice in the Japanese colonial period, Gunsan has many Japanese-style houses. The most famous one is the ‘Japanese-style House in Sinheung-dong’. The movies named 'Tazza' and 'The General's son' were filmed in this place because this place has preserved the high-class house style well.
*Summer season 10:00~18:00 & Winter season 10:00~17:00
*Address: Jeollabuk-do Gunsan-si Sinheung-dong 58-2
If you get tired of just the gorgeous film festival, why don’t you visit Jeonju as the center of independent film? Also, if you want to feel impressive moments with ten million audiences, come to Jeonbuk right now. The classic and natural beauty of Jeonbuk will make you the main character in a movie.