The Jeonju International Film Festival opened without a red carpet or outdoor performances as South Korea continues to mourn the victims of the Sewol ferry sinking.

The 15th Jeonju International Film Festival opened today (May 1) with 3D zombie omnibus Mad Sad Bad. The film’s directors Ryoo Seung-wan, Han Ji-seung and Kim Tae-yong were on hand to present the film along with actors Lee David and Park Jung-min and actresses Sohn Su-hyun and little Kim Su-an.

With South Korea under a shroud of mourning over the recent Sewol ferry sinking (April 16), JIFF cancelled its Opening ceremony’s red carpet and other non-screening events such as outdoor performances and a Talk Concert. The fest also screened a written message conveying condolences to the Sewol victims and their families before the beginning of the film.

“In truth, we haven’t gotten past the shock of the Sewol disaster and the atmosphere is one of depression. I feel sad for the film festival since it should be a celebration, but you can encounter films like ours and many others at the Jeonju film festival that can help heal the grief and mental agony,” said Ryoo.  

“Aside from my part, the other two-thirds of our film are about healing and communication, so that’s good, isn’t it?” he quipped, making a reference to his installment, which is based on a true story where a violent murder was instigated by online relationships.

“Starting with our Opening Film, I hope a lot of audiences can come see the many good films here and find comfort before they go back,” he said.

JIFF organizers will “focus more on screening films in a calm atmosphere” and will run events “deeply related to films” such the Q&A, Master Class and Cinema Class events as originally planned.

Screening 181 films from 44 countries, JIFF runs May 1-10 with the awards ceremony May 7 followed by repeat screenings.