Nov 10, 2021

“Turn The Page!” Gangneung International Film Festival 2021 Final report


“Turn The Page!”
Gangneung International Film Festival 2021
Final report

The Gangneung International Film Festival 2021 (GIFF 2021 | Chairman Kim Dong ho and Artistic Director Kim Hong jun) has successfully come to an end. With unwavering conviction that films should continue despite the global pandemic, 116 films from 42 countries were selected for theater screening and met with audiences for ten days. Seat occupancy was 61.1%, and 42 screenings were sold out. GIFF 2021 received favorable reviews and became a valuable opportunity to once again feel solidarity of the film community, which has waned during social distancing, while keeping up to pristine quarantine standards.

Finished without a single COVID case due to a thorough quarantine system and vaccinating 95% of our staff


This year's GIFF 2021 aims to be a film festival that strictly complies with quarantine guidelines in consideration of the COVID-19 situation and priorities the safety of citizens above all else. A strong quarantine system had been established considering the health of Gangneung citizens, visitors, guests, and staff. Before entering the event venue, all visitors and staff members were checked for masks/temperature, disinfected, and had to register to the access list. For convenience, the access list allowed guests to register multiple methods: QR check-ins, 080 phone number, clean Gangwon passport, and a handwritten list. The theater was disinfected twice a day in accordance with the quarantine guidelines and food was completely banned in case of an emergency. Gangneung Daedohobu Gwana, the main event venue, was checked frequently and the number of visitors was controlled to maintain 100 people per 8㎡.

The staff of GIFF 2021, including short-term staff and partner companies, were vaccinated once by 95% and the vaccination completion rate was 84%. All staff, including the organization committee, underwent PCR tests just before the opening ceremony, and even during the film festival. For those who were fully vaccinated, were checked every 3 days, those who were not, had to be checked every day before working at the venues.

As a result of strictly keeping quarantining rules, as of November 1st, no confirmed cases have been reported during the ten days the event was held. The GIFF 2021 Secretariat will closely monitor the overall situation for the next two weeks in case of any contingencies.

Increased accessibility between event venues strengthened the film community. Walkable venues centering Gangneung Daedohobu Gwana, increased audience participation


Gangneung Daedohobu Gwana

The GIFF 2021 became more accessible and welcoming to citizens by choosing closer venues. The venues were chosen to represent unique spaces in Gangneung and each venue was located within walking distance, so that everyone could enjoy the festivity of the film community in the area. There was a continuous influx of visitors towards CGV Gangneung and Gangneung Independent Arts Theater Shinyeong. Various outdoor screenings, exhibitions, and performances were presented at ‘Gangneung Daedohobu Gwana’, an important historic cultural site of Gangneung, receiving favorable reviews from Gangneung citizens and visitors.

During the festival period, the Gwana theater was used to hold various screenings and events, including a special talk to commemorate the 20th anniversary of <One Fine Spring Day>, a screening of <Color of Brass> and a performance by the Gangneung Green Silver Band. 'Gwana STAGE,’ which offered performances of various genres from jazz to fusion traditional music, 'Book-madang,' where you can meet independent bookstores in Gangneung and enjoy reading literature of various genres, and 'Road of Books,' an independent bookstore stamp tour, an exhibition program where you can meet the hidden beauty of Gangneung from the perspective of Gangneung artists, a video production program for children and adolescents with Gangneung City Media Center, and a photo event 'GIFF BOX' to leave memories. These various programs were received with great enthusiasm.

All screenings recommended! GIFF 2021 Program International Feature Competition awards Director Mano KHALIL’s <Neighbors> for uniqueness and a strong performance.

This year's GIFF 2021 strengthened its curation to provide a more comprehensive program. It was divided into 5 major sections and 15 sub-sections, and, the ‘Film and Literature’ section was expanded to clearly show the identity of GIFF 2021. The Film and Literature section received positive views that the programming has improved in quantity and quality. The session had covered Georges PEREC, one of the most significant writers of 20th century French literature, who conducted drastic experiments in both fields of film and literature. It also had special exhibitions tributing John SAYLES and Paul VECCHIALI.

The works of the next-generation master directors also drew a lot of attention. First, through the ‘ACID Cannes’ section, an official collaboration with the Cannes Film Festival, GIFF 2021 provided a valuable opportunity to share the experiences of independent filmmakers around the world and meet works of future film visionaries. ‘In: Sight’ showed the early works of ambitious new directors from Asia, Africa and Latin America under the direction to allow audiences to broaden their perspectives via the directors’ keen insights. Through ‘Discover GIFF,’ it introduced the latest works of directors clearly imprinted in the memories of movie fans. It was the first time they were screened for Korean fans.


(From left) <Botox> Kaveh MAZAHERI (Director), Idir SERGHINE (Jury for International Narrative Feature Competition), <Neighbours> Mano KHALIL (Director)

In the ‘International Narrative Feature Competition,’ which was established last year, films of talented directors were presented to fans. All ten films that were carefully chosen, passed a competition of 1:55, all award-winning films that were invited to prestigious film festivals from all around the world. They mesmerized the audience in various aspects, such as the timeliness of their themes and their unique aesthetics. This year, Best Picture of International Narrative Feature Competition went to Mano KHALIL <Neighbours>. Best Director went to Dénes NAGY <Natural Light> and Best Screenplay went to Kaveh MAZAHERI <Botox>. The best picture award is 20 million won, and the director and screenplay awards are 10 million won respectively.



GIFF 2021 held '2021 GIFF Citizen Programmer Teaching Course,’ a workshop where film makers and local citizens can communicate and support the development of a film production environment in Gangneung. ‘2021 GIFF Scenario Courageous Commitment', a workshop for scenarios and ‘G-LoCA,’ a film production workshop, were also held. These programs are just a few of the various programs that are held all year around.


< Why didn’t You Turn Your Camera Off? > GV

Since its inception, GIFF 2021 has been supporting the production of short films to contribute to the development of the local film ecosystem and film production. So far, a total of six works have received production support, and this year, among the films that was supported in 2020, director YOU Misun <Why Didn’t You Turn Your Camera Off> was officially screened three times.


(From left) CHOI Hana (Jury for GIFF Short Film Fund), SONG Jeeyeon (Director), LEE Namju (Director), YOO Seungheon (Director), Ray L. HONG (Jury for GIFF Short Film Fund)

A total 62 films applied for this year's short film production grant, and 10 films made it to the finals after going through a preliminary review. Among the finalists, three films were finally selected: <Girl's Friend>, <The Long and Winding Road >, and <Distance >. Each of the three films will be supported with a grant of 10 million won and given the opportunity to be officially screened at the 4th Gangneung International Film Festival.

JUNG Woosung, JO Insung, YOO Junsang, YOO Jitae, and LEE Yumi, celebrities and 19 foreign distinguished guests visited! GIFF 2021 praised for its “extensive & excellent programming


GIFF 2021 Red Carpet Event


GIFF 2021 Opening Ceremony

The GIFF 2021 was graced by the presence of many domestic and foreign filmmakers and actors, making it more splendid than ever. The opening ceremony heralded the start of the film festival. Directors and actors of the official invited films attended, such as director KIM Jinyu, KIM Hanmin, SHIN Suwon, LEE Jeonghyang, LEE Changdong, LEE Hyunseung, CHOI Hana, and KANG Suyeon, KI Joobong, KIM Inwoo, KIM Howon, RYU Seungryong, OH Nara, PARK Myunghoon, PARK Jungja, AHN Sungki, YANG Donggeun , YE Jiwon, OH Jiho, YOON Songah, LEE Hyeeun, IM Wonhee, JANG Sejin, JEON Nomin, JUNG Woosung, JO Inseong, JO Sanggoo, CHOI Suim, HAN Yeri and pianist NOH Youngshim. Representatives of Korea's film and art industry made it to the red-carpet event.


(From left) <Light As a Feather> YU Junsang, <Today’s Superpower> LEE Yumi, <Love Sick> GONG Seungyeon

Even during the film festival, there was much media coverage over the splendid guest lineup every day. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the following films’ release, many guests attended the event: Director HUH Jinho and actor YOO Jitae of <One Fine Spring Day>, director YANG Ikjun and actors LIM Seonwoo and CHOI Seungyoon of <Sunwoo and Ikjune>, director KIM Insun of <Hana> and actors NAM Mijung and JEONG Cheongmin; <Light As a Feather> director and actor YOO Junsang and actress JEONG Yejin, <Today's Superpower> director LEE Minseop and actors KIM Geonwoo, KIM Minho, KIM Changhwan, PARK Min-i, SONG Deokho, YOO Sujeong, LEE Yumi, JEON Woonjong, and JEONG Mansik, <1+1> director HAN Jay and actors KIM Geumsoon, KIM Jaehwa, and PARK Kyunghye; <Jangah & Chichung> director Kim Taehoon and actor JIN Gu; <Love Sick> director JEONG Seunghoon and actors GONG Seungyeon and PARK Seunghyun; <Junho> director David Seok Hoon BOO and actors PARK Jaehong, CHO Wonjun, JEON Hanna, CHOI Kwangwon. Also, in the 'Women Write, Films Remember' section, after 4 screenings of short films centered on female narratives. We had a round table session of female writers who write various female narratives from their own perspectives, such as JEON Hayoung, LEE Seoyoung, OH Seunghyeon, SONG Kyungah, and KIM Kyeorul. The panelists unraveled their stories about the lives of contemporary women.


(From left) <Strawberry Mansion> Albert BIRNEY (Director), <Neighbours> Mano KHALIL (Director)

Overseas guests also participated like before the pandemic. Idir SERGHINE, co-president of ACID (Association of Independent Cinema for its Diffusion) and 9 head organizers of international film festivals attended the Gangneung Forum. 19 guest directors from around the world attended, such as <Strawberry Mansion> opening film’s director, Albert BIRNEY, <Aya> director Simon Coulibaly GILLARD, Mano KHALIL of <Neighbours>, Diego ONGARO of <Down with the King>, Kaveh MAZAHERI of <Botox>, Bojena HORACKOVA of <Walden>, Thomas PAULOT of <The Candidate> and many more. Unfortunately, director John SAYLES, who was not able to attend in person, met the audience through a pre-recorded master class.


Tribute GIFF: John Sayles master class

Foreign guests who attended GIFF 2021 did not spare their praise for the film festival.

“The strong point of the festival is the great richness and quality of its programming. I think that in the years to come the GIFF 2021 can become an important meeting place for contemporary cinema professionals looking for daring and original films.”

- Idir SERGHINE(Co-president of ACID)

“After only three years, GIFF 2021 already proved to be a unique and one of the most stimulating Festival in an already crowded autumn. By bringing together filmmakers and literary voices, bridging contemporaries and classics, it offers an invigorating, thought provoking gathering. Count me in for the next editions!”

- Benjamin ILLOS(Programmer, Director's Fortnight)

“I'm truly honored and excited to be here at the 3rd Gangneung International Film Festival 2021. It was my pleasure to meet all the awesome filmmakers and industry experts in Gangneung city. I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. Kim Dong Ho for having me here. Thanks for the superb festival programme, perfect arrangement and hospitality! We'll meet again soon!”

- Joanne GOH (Chairperson, Malaysia International Film Festival)

“It is amazing to be here and to see how much potential this Festival has to become a huge hub for international cinema in Korea! I am happy to assist in person to the birth of a new, modern and authentic festival!”

- Sabrina BARACETTI (President, Udine Far East Film Festival)

"It's been an amazing experience. It was really good to meet all these important people and representatives in one spot. Also therefore I very much enjoyed the festival. Outstanding is the panel: there is not anything like that apart from GIFF 2021. It's so important to speak about festivals and cinema in these days. Connecting personally and networking is so important in our work! It was an honor to meet Mr. Kim Dong-ho so frequency during these days. I so much enjoyed the city of Gangneung as well. What an amazing old town quarter and also the beach and the sea. Also the setting of the festival is great."

- Ansgar VOGT (Chief Film Curator, Cartagena International Film Festival)

Forums and workshops to discuss the future of film and film festivals, such as the Gangneung Forum were a success

(From left) ‘Gangneung Forum’, Vanja KALUDJERCIC (Festival Director, International Film Festival Rotterdam)

On October 23rd (Sat), the heads of major film festivals from all over the world gathered at Myeongju Arts Center and held the ‘Gangneung Forum’ to explore future visions and plans to strengthen solidarity. This year, the scale of the forum was further expanded with the theme of ‘Do You Still Believe in Cinema?’. Heads of major film festivals from around the world gathered in Gangneung to introduce their experiences and had a meaningful time sharing their opinions about the new picture of film festivals.

‘Gangneung Forum,’ started with the keynote speech of Vanja KALUDJERCIC , the festival director of International Film Festival Rotterdam. Director KALUDJERCIC said “The process of preparing for the Rotterdam International Film Festival after the outbreak of the COVID pandemic was like riding a roller coaster.” He focused on his experiences in preparing for the film festival after the COVID-19 outbreak. “It is true that the pandemic is difficult, but we must make full use of the lessons learned from it.” “There are new possibilities in facing the new reality, and this crisis is an opportunity for transformation.”

Then the artistic director of Gangneung International Film Festival 2021, KIM Hongjoon hosted the second section introducing, KIM Dongho, the head of the Gangneung International Film Festival 2021, with the keynote speech of Vanja KALUDJERCIC (Festival Director, International Film Festival Rotterdam),Sabrina BARACETTI (President, Udine Far East Film Festival) ,Riccardo GELLI(Director, Florence Korea Film Fest), Joanne GOH (Chairperson, Malaysia International Film Festival), Benjamin ILLOS(Programmer, Director's Fortnight),Samuel JAMIER (Executive Director, New York Asian Film Festival), MAEDA Shu (Festival Director, Fukuoka International Film Festival), Lorna TEE (Former Head of Festival Management, International Film Festival Awards Macao), Ansgar VOGT (Chief Film Curator, Cartagena International Film Festival) executive director, as well as the chief film curator, as they went on stage to share their impressions of the keynote speech and shared their experiences of overcoming the crisis and overcoming the situation of each country's film festivals.

The Sabrina BARACETTI (President, Udine Far East Film Festival) executive chairman expressed his feelings about attending the Gangneung Forum, saying that it is important to listen to each other's experiences. He also mentioned that watching a movie on a screen is completely different. “Cinematic experience can only be drawn from the theater.” The Malaysia International Film Festival, which held the film festival in a hybrid form due to the pandemic, executive director Joanne GOH emphasized the importance of film festivals. She explained the reason for the existence of film festivals, saying that film festivals play an important role in social, cultural and economic development, and that now it a vital time to adapt to various changes in the film industry. She also mentioned that the face-to-face communication factor is essential in film festivals, hence she hopes that the next 5th Malaysia International Film Festival can be held on site. Riccardo GELLI, director of Florence Korea Film Festival said, “Movies have been changing ever since their inception,” citing silent films, black-and-white films, color films, and TV as examples, and expressed the opinion that online streaming platforms are another form of films.

KIM Dongho, chairman of the GIFF 2021 thanked the 9 panelists and the keynote speaker of the Gangneung Forum for conducting such an informative discussion, saying “We need to actively respond and change according to new media and changes in the environment.” He expressed his sympathy with the fact that theaters, films, and film festivals will continue to survive and prosper. In addition, he concluded the forum by saying that we should make efforts from various angles so that the audience can come back to the theater.


Academic Forum: NANG Stories

Following the Gangneung Forum, on October 25th (Mon), an academic forum, 『Nang』, was held to discuss the present and future of film-related publications at a small concert hall. Davide CAZZARO, Chief Editor of NANG Magazine, Darcy PAQUET, Art Director of Wildflower Film Awards Korea, SHIN Donghyeok, Art Director of NANG Magazine, SHIN Haeok Art director of NANG Magazine, YOO Unseong, Film Critic, participated in a discussion about the challenges and prospects in the design·publishing·editing of film related publications.


Baerong Night Talk < The Endless Sci-Fi Universe: Somewhere Between Paper and Scree > Winter KIM(Writer), KIM Choyeop(Writer), <ike: Power to Bring You Everywhere> KIM Kkobbi(Writer)

Barong Yadam was the representative program of the GIFF 2021, a talk event where people who represent film and literature, were invited to have a conversation. It was held six times under various themes and was a success as all seats were sold out. It was held in unusually unique places in Gangneung GOre Bookstore, Okcheon Cultural Storage, BonBonBangAgan, Imdang Community Cultural Center, G&GO Malgulter, sparking more curiosity to the event.

The GIFF 2021 successfully closed with favorable reviews about high-quality screening, while keeping to a strict quarantine standard, and even satisfied citizens, audiences and guests with various attractions and events. The 4th Gangneung International Film Festival is scheduled in the fall of 2022.

  • Title: Gangneung International Film Festival 2021, GIFF 2021
  • Period: Fri. Oct 22 - . Sun. Oct 31, 2021 ( 10 days)
  • Place: CGV Gangneung, Shinyoung Theater, Gangneung Daedohobu Gwana GwanaTheater , Stage 'Dan', Gangneung Daedohobu Gwana, Gangneung Arts Center, Gore Bookstore, Okcheon Cultural Storage, Myeongju Art Center, BonBonBangAgan, Imdang Community Cultural Center, Jungang-dong Urban Regeneration Community Center (Jungang-dong Salmatteo), G&GO Malgulter
  • Organizer: The Gangneung International Film Festival
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