The Korean Film Festival's spotlight on the The Year of Tolerance

As the film festival returns to Abu Dhabi for the third year, here’s a look at the film line-up for the four-day event

The festival opens with 'Innocent Witness', which stars Kim Hyang Gi, left, and Jung Woo-sung. Courtesy the Korean Film Festival
The festival opens with 'Innocent Witness', which stars Kim Hyang Gi, left, and Jung Woo-sung. Courtesy the Korean Film Festival

The Year of Tolerance will take centre stage at the third annual Korean Film Festival, which takes place at Vox Cinemas, Yas Mall from tomorrow until Saturday. Presented by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, the festival aims to showcase the best of Korean cinema to the UAE. However, unlike in past years where the event was led by a blockbuster, this year’s collection was compiled with a different view in mind.

“We are trying to focus on the Year of Tolerance so we picked three films from Korea and the UAE that show people who are treated differently than others in their society,” says Soo Yeon Jeon, curator of this year’s line-up and content and library manager at the Korean Cultural Centre.

Korean drama Innocent Witness will open the festival on Wednesday June 26. It tells the story of a lawyer assigned to a murder case with an autistic teenager as the only witness to the crime. Actor Lee Kyu-Hyung, who has a supporting role in the film, will make an appearance for a meet-and-greet prior to the screening and will be part of a Q&A session with the film’s producer, Lee Jun-woo, afterwards.

Other movies to be screened include romantic comedy On Your Wedding Day on Thursday, drama Romang and action mystery The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion on Friday and animation Underdog on Saturday. “We try to mix different genres,” says Soo. We chose films that are popular to the public, but we also try to show independent films as well to appeal to different people.”

In addition to the Year of Tolerance, there are two movies that tie in with the 100th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement Day for South Korea – Yu-na Eom’s Mal Mo E: The Secret Mission, which will be screened on Friday, and Joe Min-ho’s A Resistance, to be screened on Saturday. Both historical dramas focus on Japanese colonial rule in the country.

Also slated for the festival is the 2014 documentary Nearby Sky, by Emirati director and poet Nujoom Alghanem. The film focuses on Fatima Alhameli, the first Emirati female camel owner to enter her animals into beauty pageants and auctions in the UAE, and depicts her journey as a child, a mother and a businesswoman. The movie is scheduled to be screened on Saturday.

In the past, Arab films have been shown at the festival to help promote them to audiences in the UAE, especially since the Abu Dhabi Film Festival no longer runs and the Dubai International Film Festival is on hiatus.

With the combination of both Arab and Korean movies represented, the event has always been a good platform for cultural exchange – if not by the language then by the themes and plots of the movies.

“It’s been well established that film is one of the most effective genres to feature a country’s culture as it is usually based on and reflects the history, tradition, lifestyle as well as social reality and trends of a country,” says Yongwoo Kwon, the Republic of Korea’s ambassador to the UAE.

While the first festival in 2017 ran over four days, but was free, this year, the event has grown to run over four days, with paid-for tickets and a meet and greet with a movie star now on the agenda.

The Korean Film Festival runs from June 26 to 29 at Vox Cinemas, Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi. Tickets are Dh21. For more, visit

Updated: June 24, 2019 11:59 PM


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