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Can Korean Film Boom Aid American Filmmakers?

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik June 7, 2006 at 6:39AM

Can Korean Film Boom Aid American Filmmakers?
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Hopefully this is old news to many of you, but I just discovered (via a Screen headline) that the Korean Film Council or KOFIC has just closed submissions for its first Filmmaker Development Lab, "a major initiative to nurture and encourage emerging Korean American/Korean filmmakers to bring their stories to the screen."

Modeled after the the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, the KOFIC Filmmakers Development Lab received applications from the United States and Canada until May 31; they will announce the finalists on June 30 and the five fellows on July 21. The Lab itself will be held in Hawaii in early September, followed by a trip to the Pusan International Film Festival in October.

UPDATE: (courtesy of a reader) KOFIC has also announced a support program for "overseas Korean" filmmakers making movies on budgets between $300,000 and $2 million (application deadline is July 7) and a screenwriting competition, with a grand prize worth $10,000.

With Hollywood's focus on Korean remakes and homemade pictures booming at the box office, it's a bold move to expand to North America to look for talent. Imagine Chinese or French or Latin American industies having enough money to invest into a program that's developing the work of U.S. filmmakers? Is this a sign that American programs devoted to cultivate new talent are not serving minority filmmakers well enough? Either way, it seems to be a sign of both Korea's growth in the industry and its committment to new talent.

Now if only filmmakers can convince the South Korean government to reverse its decision to cut its local film quota in half (which has been so important to the industry's health) -- the change goes into effect on July 1. The U.S. and Hollywood couldn't be more pleased, but filmmakers continue to fight back.

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