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Milky Way Liberation Front
Milky Way Liberation Front

Lim Ji-Gyoo plays a tortured screenwriter in Milky Way Liberation Front
Korean: 은하해방전선
Year: 2007  
Director: Yoon Seong-Ho  
  Writer: Yoon Seong-Ho

Lim Ji-Gyoo, Park Hyeok-Kwon, Seo Yeong-Jo, Oh Chang-Kyung, Andrew Sung, Yang Hae-Hoon, Yoon Soo-Si, Yoon Seong-Ho, Eun-Seong, Kim Bo-Kyung

  The Skinny: A witty satire on the film festival world, director Yoon Seong-Ho's debut film is funny and impressive. However, only those who get the film world will truly appreciate the humor.
Kevin Ma:
Being a film student myself, I can honestly say that the favorite subject of film students is film students. They love to make films about the difficulties of making film, and they believe that it's somehow a representation of everyone's lives. The problem is that audiences generally don't care about how hard it is to make what they're watching. The Korean independent film Milky Way Liberation Front depicts how hard it is to not only make what you're watching, but also how hard it is to sell it to you. As a result, it may only appeal to a hardcore film buff audience because of its insider approach to the film festival world. But unlike many student films, it actually has a sense of humor about snobby, self-absorbed film students and the very film festival world where it would find most of its audience.

Aspiring writer-director Yeong-Jae (Lim Ji-Gyoo) is in trouble: he can't finish his script about a guy with aphasia (the loss of the ability to produce or comprehend language, though this detail of the story changes constantly due to other people's suggestions), he gets dumped by his girlfriend, and he can't even live at home because of his mother's annoying flute-playing. Without a finished script, Yeong-Jae heads to the Pusan Film Festival to attend the screening of his short film with his team of producers and actors. Despite the lack of a script, Yeong-Jae's producer is already planning meetings with investors and potential stars for his feature debut. However, Yeong-Jae himself soon develops aphasia the night before an important meeting with the management of a Japanese superstar, putting his project in jeopardy.

The story may sound like just another film student film about the woes of an amateur filmmaker, but writer-director Yoon Seong-Ho has a witty sense of humor about his colleagues. In Yoon's world, independent filmmakers confuse outlandish ideas for groundbreaking ones (one character pitches a movie about a North Korean shaman who become a real estate agent in the South), producers are never offended by what a superstar says, and actors give pointless answers at film festival Q&A's. Some of Yoon's digs at the indie world are so biting that audience might think that he really hates these people if he wasn't one of them himself. Yoon even unleashes the sharpest knife on himself, portraying Yeong-Jae (who looks remarkably like Yoon in the film) as a self-absorbed wannabe who only started making movies to impress girls and finds contrived metaphors in everything (e.g., "Cucumbers are like love").

Earlier this month, I watched the Taiwanese mockumentary What on Earth Have I Wrong?, which is also a self-deprecating look at a director and a satire on the world of filmmaking. However, unlike the Taiwanese film, Yeong-jae doesn't have to go into a downward spiral of drugs and sex to be transformed. Instead, he slowly finds maturity throughout, even though he doesn't quite find a way out of his professional failure. The implicit narcissism found in the usual redemption story is toned down, as Yeong-Jae becomes a better man not by turning into an enlightened angel, but simply a slightly more mature person.

Despite the lack of narcissism, Milky Way Liberation Front remains a hard sell for the general audience because only film industry buffs will actually be able to understand and appreciate the satiric humor. Even though Yoon tries to insert identifiable elements such as Yeong-Jae's attempts at mending his relationship with his ex-girlfriend, they only make up a small part of the film and actually are somewhat connected to Yeong-Jae's artistic temperament anyway. This is the film's biggest irony and maybe its biggest challenge as well - it's a film that can only be understood by the elite group it's making fun of. Yoon's film essentially says that people need to have a sense of humor about themselves in every occupation, especially an ego-driven one like film. Milky Way Liberation Front will likely travel to film festivals around the world, where they'll even embrace the irony and self-directed digs, but it'll likely end up being ignored by the local audience. Nevertheless, Yoon has proven himself with his debut film to be a talent with a bright future. Now he needs to learn that a little allegory can go a long way. (Kevin Ma, 2008)


DVD (Korea)
Region 3 NTSC
Lumix Media
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Original Korean Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Korean Subtitles
Various Extras

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image credit: Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen