Industry pressure leads to release of documentary deemed too controversial
By Song Ho-jin
An independent documentary film titled Jam Docu Gangjeong is finally showing in independent movie theaters 40 days after having been banned by the Korean Film Commission. Pressure from the film industry resulted in the film’s eventual release. The film was reportedly delayed due to its controversial subject matter and the independent film industry is now calling for a policy reform to prevent the Korean Film Commission from banning films it finds politically objectionable.
The director of the Korean Film Commission, Kim Ui-seok, claimed in an interview with the Hankyoreh that after an internal deliberation on the ban the Commission decided to allow the release of Jam Docu Gangjeong at Indieplus on Jan. 30. Indieplus is a movie theater that specializes in independent films.
“The Commission is still new to operating the movie theater. We’ve been in charge for less than a year. So, the Commission may not have organized the movie selections too well,” he said.
Produced by a team of 8 directors, the film depicts the civic uprising against the construction of a naval base in Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island. Although the film was approved by the Management Committee composed of external professionals, it was banned at Indieplus in the Nonhyun neighborhood of Gangnam District in Seoul, which runs under the supervision of the Korean Film Commission. The Commission banned the film without clarifying the specific details.
The Korean Independent Film Council issued a statement of protest against the Commission’s politically biased decision on Jan. 13. As the criticisms from the film industry became harsher, the Commission decided to permit the release of the film after days of merely repeating that they needed more time for deliberation.
Shin Eun-sil, a movie critique who is also the acting management director at Indieplus, stressed the need for a policy reform to secure the freedom to organize the program.
“The theater plans to play independent films on issues such as the Yongsan Massacre and the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project. Without a policy reform, they may encounter similar difficulties,” Shin said.
(Translated by Kim Min-ji, Intern)
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