Despite difficulties finding locations to shoot "A Werewolf Boy," a blockbuster from South Korea and this year's selection for the Newport Beach Film Festival's Korean Spotlight, filmmakers were able to capture some of the country's most scenic destinations.
Shot primarily in natural settings, including the waterfalls of Pocheon, a cypress forest in Jangheung and the scenic national island of Jeju, the film, written and directed by Sung-hee Jo, is about a family that moves to a small village and takes in an orphan boy who resembles a wolf more than a human with his feral behavior and supernatural strength.
"'A Werewolf Boy' is a fantasy of the emotions," Jo said. "It is a fantasy because it shows a kind of 'love' that many don't believe can exist in this kind of world."
In the film, set in the 1960s, the boy becomes devoted and loyal to the family but a source of fear for the locals, causing scientists and the military to step in.
The film follows the relationship between two teenagers, Cheol-su, the werewolf boy, played by Joong-ki Song, and Suni, the eldest daughter of the family, played by Bo-young Park.
"I see this as a Korean answer to 'Twilight,' but for a preteen crowd without the sexual tension," said Cathy Udovch, senior features programmer for the Newport Beach Film Festival.
"A Werewolf Boy" was also featured in the Toronto, Vancouver and Hawaii International film festivals last year.
The Pacific Rim Showcase will also feature "Key of Life" as the Japanese Spotlight and "One Mile Above" as the Chinese Spotlight.
"The Newport Beach Film Festival consistently seeks to bring the best in Asian cinema to Orange County," said Gregg Schwenk, CEO of the festival. "The artists from Japan, South Korea and China clearly reflect some of the strongest filmmaking in the world."
"Key of Life" is a comedy about a struggling actor who takes on someone else's identity and inadvertently finds he has taken on the life of a high-profile assassin.
"One Mile Above" is an award-winning film shot against the Tibetan landscape and based on the true story of a man who takes on his late brother's dream of cycling to the highest point in Tibet.
The Spotlight films screen Monday at the Edwards Big Newport 6 at 300 Newport Center Drive. For more information, visit http://www.newportbeachfilmfest.com.