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Frontline section was not active for the 21st edition of JEONJU IFF, but it comes back this year. Contrary to the Expanded Cinema section, which focuses on films with new formats of cinematic expression, Frontline focuses on films with controversial issues raising questions and arguments, showing innovative, daring styles of filmmaking.

This year, we have chosen eleven titles with diverse topics ranging from personal experiences, environmental and community crisis, and history. In particular, we have chosen two titles about the Umbrella Movement for democracy in Hong Kong, Taking Back the Legislature and Inside the Red Brick Wall. It is worthwhile to note that countless journalists and documentary filmmakers collaborated to create them. A Distant Thud In The Jungle depicts a crisis in the forest of Papua New Guinea. A distant town in the rainforest attracts a powerful US oil company Exxon Mobil, which wanted to develop the area and build a natural gas plant there. Blinded by money, politicians become corrupted and villagers make the worst decisions, making voiceless, powerless common people suffer the most. French filmmaker Céline Rouzet shows the unfiltered, raw take on this modernization frenzy.
PEBBLES is set in Arittapati, a poverty-stricken village in Southern India. It follows a violent father and his little son, who cannot escape poverty and live in a deconstructed family and as victims of learned helplessness. Director Darío Doria questions Argentina’s view and legalization of abortion in Vicenta, which follows how Vicenta and his 19-year-old daughter with a developmental disability cope with her pregnancy from rape by her uncle. THE FROGS, also an Argentine title, shows the strenuous lives of young women whose boyfriend or husband is in prison. They visit the prison once every week to provide the prisoners things that are not available in prison, such as food, drug, and cellphone, among others. The Silent Forest is a fiction based on a sexual abuse scandal at a school in Taiwan with about 300 victims and offenders. Although it tells a very disturbing tragedy, it tells about something we need to be aware of and something that needs to be prevented in advance.
Radiograph of a Family uniquely interweaves stories concerning personal and public in Iran, where conflicts continue between tradition and modernization. War and Peace is co-directed by two Italian filmmakers, who reflect upon the representation of wars in the past and the present. Old films exemplify the past. Records made possible by technological innovation exemplifies the present. Viewers may find War and Peace an extraordinary title. Speaking of extraordinariness, we cannot leave Last Words unmentioned. Filmmaker and activist Jonathan Nossiter argues in Last Words that films serve as a critical cultural movement and real life changer.
To summarize, Frontline titles include films with a wide range of topics, including titles that may come across as radical or even horrifying. Not all titles might feel beautiful and sophisticated. Some will certainly lead us to the inconvenient, uncomfortable, or raw. However, by watching such titles, the viewers will meet those who stand at the “Frontline,” whether they are individuals, families, and any social group members. This might explain why the Frontline titles deliver such high-intensity emotions.

(CHUN Jinsu)

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