London East Asian Film Festival 2020

The London East Asian Film Festival (LEAFF) returns for its fifth year albeit somewhat differently. The festival opens its doors from the 10th – 13th December to bring the London capital a selection of 10 great films from East Asia.

Tonight the film kicks off its opening gala at Leceister Square Odeon Luxe, with the Korean crime mystery thriller film Beasts Clawing At Straws. Starring Do-yeon Jeo, Woo-Sung Jung and Yuh-Jung Youn. Written and directed by Yong Hoon Kim.

Film still from Beasts Clawing At Straws courtesy of LEAFF

I managed to catch up with Festival Director Hyejung Jeon, who bought LEAFF to life in 2015 to ask a few questions about this year’s festival and what we can expect.

Festival Director of LEAFF Hye-Jung Jeon

DOK [Diya on Korea] : “During this time of the pandemic, can I ask why the festival was keen to showcase films in a physical space instead of online ?”

Jeon: “A lot of film festivals this year that have taken place, had a mixture of in person attendance and online screenings. Our staff and audiences’ safety are of utmost importance to us here at LEAFF. We considered hosting online events, but in doing so we would have moved away from the very ideas at our core, which is to protect the magic of the cinema going experience.

We feel passionately about not losing our art venues in this time and whilst it’s a challenge, we should be holding events and taking the right steps to ensure safety for all. We had the confident support of our partners and venues and thus knew we could continue to showcase films in person.

 To ensure we can enjoy a safe running of the festival, we have enacted a series of measures that protect both customers and staff. It is a time of concern for many and we have done everything we can do to allay them.

I strongly believe that there is something magical that happens when you watch films on a larger than life screen and get to share that with others. Even though this year we will sat a bit further away from each other, we will still be together in our understanding and  experiences of the films emotional journey that we will share. LEAFF2020 is about preserving this and recognising its importance.

The festivals main poster image

DOK: “What are you most excited about this year ?”

Jeon “This year has been hard for all but particularly for festivals. We have not been able to put on the full expansive line up of films due to the pandemic, but our team have embraced this challenge. The result is a handpicked, refined selection that spans the whole diversity of East Asian cinema. In short, we have been able to ensure a high quality offering for our loyal audiences.

We are really excited to show off what is at the heart of LEAFF-a vibrant, passionate cinema experience in luxurious venues. We want our audience goers to get a real sense of that magic you get when watching it on the silver screen and sharing in these stories as a community.

If in our times of hardship, we abandon these small yet crucial necessities, there is a possibility we can loose them. So, for LEAFF, this is important for us that we are retaining that experience. As a result, this is a huge year for us, despite the events being on a smaller scale.

Overall we are here to demonstrate the purity of our passion for cinema and remind our audiences why cinema has a unique allure. It is something that we need now more so than ever.

DOK: Can you tell us what to expect from LEAFF 2021?

Jeon “We had a hugely successful year in 2019. Despite a reduced line up this year, we feel the quality and diversity of films distil what is quintessential about LEAFF. We are still keen to focus on a unique selection of films that showcase the distinct spread of identities and tastes in the East Asian community. By bringing these films to London in the current world environment, we allow our audience to enjoy the same top quality selection of films from East Asia, that they have come to expect of us in the past. We can also ensure they enjoy and escape with us and travel to far flung places beyond their current environment.”

To see the full line of the 10 films on offer and how to book, please click here to go to their website. See below for their remaining Korean films selection. See below for their official trailer

Light for the Youth (젊은이의 양지)

Friday 11 December 2020, 8pm
Cinema at Selfridges | 40 Duke Street | London W1U 1AT | Book here
Director: Shin Su-won (2019, 114mins)
Cast: Kim Ho-jung, Yoon Chan-young, Jung Ha-dam
Screening supported by The Korea Tourism Organization

Beauty Water

Saturday 12 December 2020, 8:45pm
Cinema at Selfridges | 40 Duke Street | London W1U 1AT | Book here
Director: Cho Kyung-hun (2020, 85mins)
Cast: Moon Nam-sook, Kim Bo-young, Cho Hyun-jung
Screening supported by The Korea Tourism Organization

Thank you to LEAFF and Director Jeon for their kind permission to use the images and stills displayed in this article.

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