Review: ‘The Golden Age of Korean Cinema & the Legend of Shin Film’

'The Golden Age of Korean Cinema

A biography of Korean director and studio head Shin Sang-ok, who worked both sides of the peninsula's north-south divide, "The Golden Age of Korean Cinema & the Legend of Shin Film" is an enthralling if hagiographic slice of cinema history that will satiate Asian-film aficionados and novices alike.

A biography of Korean director and studio head Shin Sang-ok, who worked both sides of the peninsula’s north-south divide, “The Golden Age of Korean Cinema & the Legend of Shin Film” is an enthralling if hagiographic slice of cinema history that will satiate Asian-film aficionados and novices alike. Covering Shin’s career from the late 1940s to his 1986 liberation from Kim Jong-il’s employment, the pic is packed with reminiscences from admiring colleagues and collaborators, and a myriad of clips from Shin’s 60-year oeuvre. A must for Asian-themed fests, docu also will appeal to other film-buff gatherings.

Narrated by former Shin protege Lee Jang-ho in bombastic style, the docu kicks off with the prolific director’s first film, “Evil Night” (1952), whose shoot was interrupted by the Korean War; Shin thereafter exhibited unflagging determination to create a Korean studio system similar to Japan’s. Although funded by a body established to honor Shin’s legacy after his 2006 death, the pic doesn’t completely dodge the controversy of its subject’s alleged collaboration with South Korea’s 1970s dictatorship. A proposed follow-up doc will address Shin’s post-North Korean experiences.

The Golden Age of Korean Cinema & the Legend of Shin Film

South Korea

Production

A Dream Tower, Film Alchemy production, in association with the Shin Sang-ok Memorial Foundation. (International sales: Film Alchemy, Seoul.) Produced by Sheen Jeong-kyun, Lee Nam-jin. Executive producer, Choi Eun-hee. Directed by Cho Jae-hong. Screenplay, Lee Nam-jin, Cho.

Crew

Camera (color/B&W, HD), Kwak Hyung-shin; editor, Kwak. Reviewed at Busan Film Festival (Wide Angle), Oct. 12, 2011. Running time: 81 MIN.

With

Choi Eun-hee, Choi Gyeong-ok, Hwang Gi-seong, Lim Won-sik, Lee Sang-hyun, Kim Cab-eui, Shin Young-kyun, Tae Hyun-sil, Kim Jong-won, Jo Jun-hyeong. Narrator: Lee Jang-ho.

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