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Post-vérité Turns: Korean Documentary Cinema in the 21st Century

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University of Westminster - Regent Campus

Westminster School of Art, 309 Regent Street

Room UG.04

London

W1B 2HW

United Kingdom

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Despite the obvious paucity of existing English-written works on it in Korean cinema and media studies, Korean documentary cinema in the 21st century has been the richest and most vibrant territory of formal and aesthetic experimentations in Korean national cinema as many filmmakers and artists have attempted to renew and transcend its traditional ethos of cinéma vérité. Emerging directors and moving image artists have developed an array of other formal devices than those in the participatory mode of documentary, including self-reflexive and essayistic approaches, reenactment, archival uses of found footage, and poetic observation. These devices have resulted in various films, videos, and installations that could fall under the rubric of ‘experimental documentary’ or ‘avant-doc.’ The new filmmakers and artists’ growing attempts at intersecting documentary and avant-garde cinema, and documentary and contemporary art, however, do not mark a total departure from their predecessors. The works in question might break from the authentic assumptions of the traditional Korean independent documentary, but their directors and artists ultimately aim at extending its traditional subjects, political responsibility, and ethical or epistemological problems into their formal experimentations. It is in this sense that the works are seen to mark the ‘post-vérité’ turn of Korean independent documentary.

This talk presents an overview of Jihoon Kim's in-progress book project entitled Post-vérité Turns: Korean Documentary Cinema in the 21st Century, classifying the aesthetic, technical, and political changes in the Korean independent documentary since the 2000s as five ‘turns’: namely, ‘the personal turn,’ the audiovisual turn,’ ‘the archival turn,’ ‘the digital turn,’ and finally, ‘the crossover turn.’ All these categories demonstrate that the new post-vérité’ documentary film in the 21st century has also updated the activist tradition’s political and ethical commitment to Korean society and history by cultivating the alternative public sphere in which both the traumas of modernization and the new problems of the neoliberalized contemporary Korea have been portrayed and discussed.

Jihoon Kim is associate professor of cinema and media studies at Chung-ang University, South Korea. He is the author of Between Film, Video, and the Digital: Hybrid Moving Images in the Post-media Age (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016). His essays on film theory, experimental film and video, art of the moving image, cinema and contemporary art, digital cinema, and experimental documentary have appeared in Cinema Journal, Screen, Film Quarterly, Camera Obscura, Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Millennium Film Journal, and the anthologies Global Art Cinema: New Histories and Theories (Oxford University Press, 2010), and Taking Place: Location and the Moving Image (University of Minnesota Press, 2011), among others. Currently He is working on two book projects, each entitled Documentary's Expanded Fields: New Media, New Platforms, and the Documentary and Post-vérité Turns: Korean Documentary Cinema in the 21st Century respectively.

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University of Westminster - Regent Campus

Westminster School of Art, 309 Regent Street

Room UG.04

London

W1B 2HW

United Kingdom

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