Docu fest turns DMZ into peace symbol
By Lee Hyo-won
The 2nd DMZ Korean International Documentary Film Festival (DMZ Docs) will open Thursday in a town bordering the two Koreas, screening 74 documentaries from 35 countries conveying the theme of peace, life and communication.
The budding event, which was launched last year, will be held through Sept. 13 in Paju, located just below the demarcation line separating South and North Korea.
``The DMZ has symbolized the painful memories of war and was rather limited to the geographical confines of Gyeonggi Province. But I hope it will be rediscovered as a place of reconciliation and exchange on the Korean Peninsula and in the world,’’ said the festival chairman and Gyeonggi Province governor Kim Moon-soo during a recent press conference in Seoul.
``Peace,’’ directed by Japanese filmmaker Kazuhiro Soda under the auspices of DMZ Docs, will open the festival. This essay-like film makes an incisive observation of daily life in Okayama, where its residents, including stray cats, intermingle with remnants of Japan’s past militarism.
The international competition has invited 13 films, including six from Asia, five from Europe and two from North America. Addressing such topics as family, war, disease and the socially marginalized, they will vie for the grand prize.
In another section, eight local entries will compete. Other works to be shown include stories about the unification of East and West Germany in 1990 and the Korean War that broke out 60 years ago in 1950. The festival’s promotional trailer, which will precede the screening of each documentary, has been directed by movie star Yoo Ji-tae.
``I wanted to deliver stories with more depth and wider scope. In addition to screening documentaries we are offering diverse events that everyone, including local residents, can enjoy,’’ said festival director and actor Cho Jae-hyun.
In addition to watching documentaries, festivalgoers are invited to explore the DMZ area via train and bicycle. Despite being known as one of the world’s most heavily fortified places, the region is also one of the most popular destinations in the country. Organizers of the event and special guests will take part in the 15-kilometer bike tour. Visit www.ethankyou.co.kr or www.koreail.com for more information.
The festival also reaches out to younger audiences through an educational program, Docs for Edu, through which youths can partake in debates, conferences and essay-writing contests on documentaries.
Anyone passing by the festival venue (the block between the Dasan Bridge Intersection and Ichae Cinus Theater) can enjoy various sideline events including outdoor exhibitions, performances and a book fair.
To find out more about the DMZ Docs, visit www.dmzdocs.com.