Melbourne, 3 September – After 2 successful weeks in Sydney and Brisbane, the 6th Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) has finally arrived for its 3rd stop in Melbourne. The festival officially kicked off on a wintry Thursday evening, as moviegoers streamed into the state-of-the-art Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) for the opening film – How To Steal A Dog (개를 훔치는 완벽한 방법)! Festivities included a special reception and an opening address by Mr. Jo Hong-jo, the Korean Consulate-General in Melbourne.
Based on the children’s novel of the same name by Barbara O’Connor, the film boasts an ensemble cast of actors. Child actress Lee Re stars as ten-year-old Ji-so, who introduces us to her secret – she lives in a pizza delivery van haphazardly parked by the side of the road, which she shares with her harried mother, played by Kang Hye-jung and precocious little brother, Ji-suk (Hong Eun-taek). Ji-so is a glum and sullen little girl who resents her family’s dire living conditions and her mother’s inability to hold down a job. Her runaway father is nowhere to be found, and she dreams of holding a lavish birthday party in a house she can call her own. Like any other self-conscious adolescent, she is afraid of being scorned by her schoolmates. Fortunately, she finds a trustworthy ally in the form of her best friend Chae-rang (Lee Ji-won).
Catching a glimpse of a poster at a real estate agency advertising the sale of a house at ‘500 thousand won per square metre’ and hilariously misinterpreting the words, Ji-so and Chae-rang decide to raise 500 thousand won to buy a house. Thus, a harebrained scheme is born: to steal a pet dog, wait for a reward to be offered and return the dog to collect the money. The girls settle on a target – Wolly, the beloved pet of a rich and shrewd woman, played by veteran actress Kim Hye-ja. After a series of foiled plans, the girls finally manage to capture Wolly with the help of Ji-suk and a mischievous pizza delivery boy (FT Island’s Lee Hongki). Meanwhile, the rich woman’s hapless nephew (Lee Chun-hee) realises that his aunt is about to leave her entire inheritance to Wolly, and resolves to get rid of the dog. Famous for his masculine and fierce image on screen, actor Choi Min-soo makes a delightful appearance as a homeless rag-and-bone man who lends a hand to the children.
The film provides plenty of comedic relief, yet manages to tug at your heartstrings with tear-jerking moments and heartwarming anecdotes. How To Steal A Dog is a modern-day fairytale, featuring colourful and bright cinematography that makes it a fantastic family-friendly movie. The three child protagonists, played by Lee Re, Hong Eun-taek and Lee Ji-won were certainly the stars of the show, as they pulled off their roles with aplomb. Lee Ji-won in particular impressed me with her acting chops as a sassy yet fiercely loyal Chae-rang. Audiences can also look out for the surprise cameos from variety personality Sam Hammington, as well as singer/rapper/producer Tablo!
Runtime: 109 minutes
How To Steal A Dog screening times:
- Canberra – 5 September
- Perth – 17 September
- Adelaide – 24 September
For the full screening schedule and ticketing information, visit www.koffia.com.au!