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Ko - production in Busan
  • Korean films competing for major awards at international film fests
  • Aug 28, 2012
  • Local releases screening at both Venice and Toronto while Jeonju shows its influence
    There have been many news reports about the presence of Korean films at overseas film festivals this past July and August. KIM Ki-duk's Pieta was invited to the main competition section at the Venice International Film Festival and The Thieves, which has broken the 12 million admissions mark locally, is to walk the red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival along with A Werewolf Boy and Juvenile Offender. The following is a summary of Korean films that have recently been invited to major world festivals.

    Three Korean films invited to the 69th Venice International Film Festival
    Pieta /dir. KIM Ki-duk/ Competition Section
    KIM Ki-duk, who has consistently won awards at the world's top three film festivals (Cannes, Berlin and Venice), has been invited to the 69th Venice International Film Festival with his 18th film, Pieta. It's the fourth time one of his films has been invited to Venice and with this invitation he has now become the Korean director with the most Venice invites.
    KIM's 3-Iron won the Silver Lion Award (Best Director Award) in 2004 along with the Young Critics' Award, the International Film Critics' Award and the World Catholic Association Award. This year's invitation to the competition section is the first for a Korean film in seven years, making it all the more significant. PARK Chan-wook's Sympathy For Lady Vengeance was the last to compete. 
    KIM's Pieta will compete against 17 other films including Terrence MALICK's To the Wonder. Malick recently won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes International Film Festival. Also in the competition for the Golden Lion is Brian de PALMA's Passion and Takeshi KITANO's Outrage Beyond.

    The Weight | dir. JEON Kyu-hwan | Venice Days
    The Weight, starring CHO Jae-hyun, has been invited to the Venice Days sidebar section of the Venice International Film Festival, a first for a Korean film. This section is the Venice equivalent of the Directors' Fortnight at Cannes and a section which many directors the world over dream of being invited to. Denis VILLENEUVE's Incendies and Sherry HORMAN's Desert Flower have previously been screened there.

    The Weight is a film that captures the essense of director JEON's cinematic vision by showing through a unique sense of cinematography, dance and characterization, all expressing the burdens and pains that humans bear.

    Invitation | dir. YOU Min-young | Orrizonti
    YOU Min-young's Invitation, a short film 16 minutes in length, has been invited to Venice's Orizzonti section, devoted to screening experimental works or films that point to a new direction in style. Last year KIM Kyung-mook's Stateless Things was shown in this section.

    Three Korean films invited to the 37th Toronto International Film Festival
    A Werewolf Boy | dir. JO Sung-hee | Contemporary World Cinema
    JO Sung-hee's commercial debut, A Werewolf Boy, is a love story about a dangerous werewolf and a girl who has shut herself off from the world. JO won the Best Picture Award at Seoul's Mise-en-Scene Short Film Festival for his Don't step out of the House and a third-place prize at Cannes' Cinefondation. His graduation project, End of Animal, which he made in his final year at the Korean Academy of Film Arts, was invited to the Dragons and Tigers section of the Vancouver International Film Festival as well as a non-competition section of the International Film Festival Rotterdam.
    Juvenile Offender | dir. KANG Yi-kwan | Contemporary World Cinema
    In KANG Yi-kwan's Juvenile Offender, a boy who is always in and out of the local youth detention center is reunited with his mother after 16 years and comes to face a startling truth. The film was commissioned and produced by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea and has drawn a lot of controversy for the topic it deals with.
    Director KANG Yi-kwan won the International Critics Award at the 30th edition of TIFF for his Sakwa (2005), which starred MOON So-ri, KIM Tae-woo and LEE Sun-kyun and screened in the fest's Discovery section. Unsurprisingly, his second invitation to TIFF is drawing much interest. 

    The Thieves | dir. CHOI Dong-hoon | Contemporary World Cinema
    The Thieves, which has drawn over 12 million moviegoers to the box office in Korea and is currently the 3rd most attended Korean film in history, will also be shown at TIFF. It will be screened at Ryerson University on the 13th of September.

    Seven Films from the Jeonju International Film Festival go on to major world festivals
    Films from the Jeonju Digital Project (JDP), a major component of the Jeonju International Film Festival (JIFF) have been invited to major world festivals. Director YING Liang's When Night Falls was invited to the international competition section at the 65th Locarno International Film Festival and was awarded the Leopard for Best Director as well as the Leopard for Best Actress (to actress NAI An). Vimukthi JAYASUNDARA's Light in the Yellow Breathing Space and Raya MARTIN's Great Cinema Party were invited to the non-competition section of Locarno.
    Locarno has taken great interest in JIFF's Jeonju Digital Project and have invited works from the section nearly every year. In 2007, a collaborative film by Harun FAROCKI of Germany, Portugal's Pedro COSTA and Eugene GREEN of France was awarded the Jury's Special award in the International Competition section at Locarno. HONG Sang-soo's Lost in the Mountains, a JDP project in 2009, was also invited to the 3rd Korean Film Festival in Australia.
    IM Kwon-taek's Hanji has also been invited to the Australian fest. Meanwhile, dir. JANG Kun-jae's Sleepless Night was invited to the international competition section at this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival and was awarded the Student Critics' Award and LEE Sang-woo's Fire in Hell was invited to the competition section at the 34th Moscow International Film Festival.

    Eleven other Korean films invited to major world festivals
    Doomsday Book, an omnibus film directed by KIM Jee-woon and YIM Pil-sung that follows three potential ends of the world, has been invited to many international film festivals.
    It was invited to the World Fantastic Cinema section at the 16th Pucheon International Fantastic Film Festival and it was chosen to be the closing film at the 11th Dallas Asian Film Festival. Following this, it was invited to the Centerpiece Section at the 11th New York Asian Film Festival, the Asian New Films section of the 12th Neuchatel Fantastic Film Festival, and the competition section of the 45th Sitges International Film Festival. Doomsday Book won the Best Picture Award at the 16th Fantasia Film Festival, again demonstrating its excellence and popularity.
    Horror Stories, was the film that opened the 16th Pucheon International Film Festival and it was invited to the Casa Asia section at the 45th Sitges International Film Festival, showing off at the both places the high quality of the horror genre in Korean cinema. RYOO Seung-wan's The Unjust was the invitee to that section last year at Sitges. LEE Sang-woo's latest feature, Barbie became the first Korean film to win the Griffon Award at the 42nd Giffoni International Film Festival.
    Many Korean blockbusters and independent Korean films have also been invited to international film festivals. Deranged, which drew 4.5 milion admissions, has been invited to the Casa Asia section at the Sitges International Film Festival. IM Sang-soo's The Taste of Money will also be screend in the Panorama section at the 14th Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival.
    Never Ending Story, starring UHM Tae-woong and Jung Ryeo-won, won the Grand Prix at the Fukuoka Asian Film Festival, the highest honor at the event. Along with this film, CHUNG Ji-young's Unbowed and SHWANG In-ho's Spellbound were invited to Fukuoka, with Korean films making up the majority of the schedule. Another Korean film which was invited to Fukuoka was LEE Myung-se's M.
    Myselves: The Actress No Makeup Project, produced by the Seoul Independent Film Festival and directed by BOO Ji-young, has been invited to the 2012 Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival as well as the 5th Samsung Women's International Film Festival in Chennai, India.
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