The movie, <Parasite (2019)> by Director Bong Joonho won four awards at the 92nd Academy Awards. Along with Director Bong Joonho's film is gaining global recognition, Korea's film industry has also risen to the global stage. It gained lot of popularity because it conveyed lot of scenes that portrayed our society. Like this movie, there is also a tendency for directors to attempt to influence society through their films, so that movies play both big and small roles in people's lives. Commercial films attract large audiences and receive great attention, but more and more are looking to the independent film industry. With an increase in the number of independent films being released, independent theaters that screen those types of films are gaining attention, too. SMT decided to watch a film at an independent movie theater.
Background of independent films
For most people, the idea of watching an independent film is awkward when compared to the excitement of viewing a commercial film. According to the dictionary, the term independent film is a generic term for movies made by producers, who do not have connections to Hollywood. An independent film in Korea refers to a film that is produced without financial support from commercial film capital. The idea is that it is independent from the capital and dominant narratives of commercial films. This independence means a director makes use of their own or non-commercial capital in the hopes that the film will earn more than its production costs at the box office. In the early 80s, when the film industry gain popularity in Korea, due in part to the nation's social movement, many film clubs popped up on campuses, which later developed into Korea’s independent film organization. In the 1980s, independent films were made by university clubs, and examples include <For the talented (1987)> and <When the day comes (1988)>. Over time, the range of independent films also widened, and now Korean independent films, which are now being acknowledged and winning awards at foreign film festivals, are being produced more and more.
Before watching an independent movie, SMT reporters searched for a theater that showed independent films. Independent films are typically released in small theaters, but they can occasionally be showing at bigger multiplexes like CGV, MEGABOX, and LOTTE CINEMA. SMT reporters decided to on a smaller Seoul-based independent movie theater to experience an independent film at an independent theater rather than going to a multiplex. SMT reporters found that there are about 16 independent theaters in seoul. The SMT reporters chose the one that they felt was most inviting and that was showing a film they wanted to see on screen. They decided on Director Kim Bora's <House of Hummingbirds (2018)>, which was released on August 29, 2019. The movie <House of Hummingbirds (2018)> had already won several awards from several foreign film festivals, and it was first released at the ‘2018 Busan International Film Festival’. It is Director Kim Bora's debut film. After watching the trailer for the film, SMT reporters were full of excitement to see it.
Everything was new
Reporters were surprised by the ticket booth at ‘Film Forum’. Having only gone to see films at multiplex theaters like CGV or MEGABOX, it was rather tiny. It looked more like a well-decorated café. Reporters reserved tickets for the movie, which cost 9,000 won for an adult on weekdays and 10,000 won on weekends. For those interested in all-day film viewing, there is a ‘Daily Pass’ that costs 30,000 won. Reporters chose to watch <House of Hummingbirds (2018)>. The theater has only two screens, so reporters recommend moviegoers to pre-search the movie schedule for the theater and only go at that time rather than just showing up expecting to see a movie quickly. Visitors also have the option of buying tickets on online. Reporters arrived at the theater 30 minutes before the movie started. It wasn't late to book tickets on the spot, because there were little visitors due to COVID-19.
Before the movie starts, reporters looked around the theater for 30 minutes. The time passed quickly thanks to a variety of attractions at the theater. Most theater visitors spent their time chatting over a beverage bought at the café, but reporters were absorbed in gazing at the goods that were on sale such as postcards, stickers, and memo pads that had painted images of movie posters and famous scenes. It was fun to guess the movie by just viewing the image on the goods. Finally, reporters who had been pleasurably waiting for the film decided to make some postcard purchases. Inside the theater, there was a seminar room where people gathered to take lessons on music, art, movie marketing, and writing. For those wanting more information about the theater, please visit the ‘Film Forum’ website (filmforum.kr).
As the film screening time approached, staff appeared and requested the audience to enter the theater. Reporters hurried in and took their seats. From start to finish there was something unique. SMT reporters were surprised with these key points. The first was the small size of cinema room. There were only about 90 seats, and the screen was small. It actually made the experience cozier. The next surprise was the absence of commercial before the start of the movie. Reporters quickly understood why the staff had urged the audience to enter and take their seats on time. The last point was that the cinema room only turned on the lights to exit once the end credits had finished scrolling. It was only once the end credits were done did the audience head to the exit. After watching the movie, reporters then wrote some comments about the movie on a special 'movie book'. Audience could write various reviews on the 'movie book'; how they felt and what was impressive. It was nice opportunity to express one's thoughts immediately after viewing a movie.
For fresher movie appreciation
Importance of film is growing in Korean society. Commercial films have their charm and fun, but so do independent films. SMT reporters suggest turning your eyes towards them and take an interest in independent films. Unlike ordinary cinemas that all look alike, independent theaters are each distinctly decorated and have their own character though it is small. A visit to one will bring change to one’s tedious daily life. An independent film can also be enjoyed without a large audience crowd, and it leaves one with a different kind of impression from a conventional multiplex. Therefore, SMT reporters strongly recommend Sookmyungians visit an independent theater and watch an independent film.
Kim Lee Hyunmin / Editor-in-Chief
Lee Hwang Hayoung / Woman Section Editor