A scene from the Italian drama ``Bittersweet'' which will compete for the Best Drama at the Seoul International Drama Festival.
/ Courtesy of organizers
By Han Sang-hee
The Seoul International Drama Festival, to be held from Sept. 1 to 10, will likely provide drama lovers a little bit more than just enjoying the storylines and characters.
First launched in 2006, the annual event will bring various events, showcases and a red carpet event inviting some of the most promising and popular dramas from around the world.
From 2006, the festival has made rapid growth in many countries and this year it is embroidered with colorful events. More than 172 works from 43 countries entered the preliminaries, exciting the event organizers and also the jury.
``Due to the economic downturn, drama productions have seen a decline, but we still found some interesting works from the United States, England, Ireland and of course, Korea,’’ said programmer Ha Jae-ho during a press conference for the event at the Seoul Press Center.
The Best Drama Awards will be the most competitive category, with 19 works vying for prizes under the short, mini-series and epic sections.
Among them, the highest bets are on ``NCIS season 7’’ from the U.S., ``JIN’’ from Japan, ``The Summit’’ from Canada and ``The Slave Hunters’’ and ``The Great Queen Seondeok’’ from Korea.
Fierce competition is also expected in the individual sections, which includes Best Producer, Best Writer, Best Actor and Best Actress. Nine producers will compete for the Best Producer prize, including Nick Copus (``The Summit’’) from Canada, Pascal Chaumel and Anne Giafferi (``Desperate Parents’’) from France and Brian Kirk (``Father & Son’’) from Ireland.
Korean drama fans may be a bit disappointed to see that only one local actor made it to the final round of the Best Actor category. Lee Byung-hun from ``IRIS’’ will be competing for the honor, along with fellow actors including Mark Harmon from ``NCIS season 7,’’ James Cromwell from ``The Last Days of Lehman Brothers’’ (U.K.) and Dougray Scott from ``Father & Son.’’ The Best Actress award will be given to the winner among talented actresses from around the world, such as Adrienne Pauly from French drama ``The Killer Queen,’’ Abbey Hoes from ``Maite was Here’’ (Netherlands) and Machiko Ono from ``Goldfish’’ (Japan).
Despite the equal interest in television around the world, it’s inevitable to spot the differences in techniques and time put into the process in drama-making. Nevertheless, the judges agreed that those small differences make the festival even more interesting and give more meaning and reason to the event itself.
``There were many interesting aspects, in terms of cinematography and topics. The most frequently dealt issues were thrillers and crime investigation, but dramas from Europe tend to deal with various issues, such as the emotions and struggles of people leading busy lives in the modern day,’’ Yum Hyeon-seup, drama producer and one of the jury, said.
``In terms of scale, Chinese works were noticeable, especially `The Pleiades,’’’ he added.
The festival also added a special award dubbed ``Representative of Korean Wave (hallyu),’’ this year, which honors a local drama, actress, actor, director and writer that introduced Korean drama content and popularity. The results for the categories were made at the press event: ``The Slave Hunters’’ was chosen as the Representative Korean Drama along with the Best Director Kwak Hwan-jung; Chang Hyuk and Lee Byung-hun won the actors’ awards; Koh Hyun-jung and Han Hyo-joo the actress’ award and Kim Young-hyun and Park Sang-yeon won the Best Writer award for their work on ``The Great Queen Seondeok.’’
What is a festival without interesting events and interaction?
From Sept.1 to 5, the Seoul International Drama Festival is offering special showcases where fans can walk on drama sets, take photos at photo zones and also try on costumes from popular series. Concerts and fan meetings will also take place, along with a special screening of the competing works. All of the events will be held at COEX, southern Seoul. From Sept. 6 to 9, pop and jazz groups will gather in Myeongdong and put on small concerts, while on Sept. 9, popular singers, including JK Kim Dong-wook and Lee Eun-mi, will perform on the Yeouido Floating Stage and add a jazzy twist to famous drama theme songs.
The final award ceremony will take place at KBS Hall, Sept. 10, and will be broadcast live on MBC.
For more information, visit www.seouldrama.org.