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Ko - production in Busan
  • Venice choses KIM Ki-duk
  • by JI Yong-jin  /  Sep 10, 2012
  • Pieta wins the Golden Lion at the 69th Venice Film Festival

    Venice chose KIM Ki-duk after all. At the closing ceremony of 69th Venice Film Festival, held at 7pm on September 8th, KIM’s Pieta won the Golden Lion as the fest's best film. The Master, directed by Paul Thomas ANDERSON, was the strongest competitor until the very last moment, but it ended up winning the Silver Lion (Best Director) and the Best Actor’s Award instead.

    KIM’s accomplishment was in many ways predicted in advance. At this year’s edition of the Venice Film Festival, he took three of the event's unofficial prizes in addition to his Golden Lion: the Premio Agiscuola Leoncino D’Oro (Young Critics' Award), the Mouse D’Oro and the Premio P. Nazareno Taddei. The Mouse D’Oro is given to one of the films invited to the official competition section, and it is selected by 72 journalists of the online film media in Italy. This prize is known to reflect immediate reactions and impressions at the fest. The Premio P. Nazareno Taddei was first introduced in 2007 to pay tribute to Nazareno Taddei, a renowned Italian writer who passed away in 2006.

    KIM’s connection to the festival started in 2000. At that time, he went there with The Isle and once again with Address Unknown in the following year. It was 2004 when 3-Iron brought him the Silver Lion, which was the first prize he won at the Venice Film Festival. This year’s Golden Lion is the first prize he has won at one of the world’s three major film festivals (Cannes, Berlin and Venice) in the eight years since his Silver Lion win with 3-Iron and his Silver Bear win at the Berlin International Film Festival for Samaritan Girl, both in 2004. His achievement this year is particularly meaningful as it is the first time that a Korean film has been given the top prize at one of the world's top three film fests.

    At the awards presentation for the Venice Film Festival’s closing ceremony, held at 8pm on September 8th (CET), KIM said, “I appreciate the entire staff and all the actors.” Then he sang "Arirang," a traditional Korean folk song. After the closing ceremony ended, KIM and CHO Min-su, the leading actress, talked to Korean fans.
    - Congratulations. Can you briefly tell us how you feel now?
    KIM: I feel very good. I think this Golden Lion goes to Korean film, not to me. I would like to say once again that I am grateful to everyone who has supported me.
    CHO: I guess the national team at London Olympics must have felt the same as I do now. Since I first arrived in Venice, I have felt happy, impressed and awed at every moment so far. I’m really happy because KIM’s Pieta is the first Korean film that has won the Golden Lion.
    - When you saw the reactions in Venice, didn’t you expect this would happen?
    KIM: In my mind, I couldn’t have been happier if I won because I knew how great this award is. After the official screening, reactions from both the audience and the critics were so fervent that even I could feel it myself. When I heard my fans in Italy say, “The only owner of the Golden Lion must be Pieta.”, I expected it would come true, to be honest.
    - What do you think were the key points that made Pieta win the Golden Lion?
    KIM: First of all, I suppose the global theme of capitalism and twisted morality derived from it caught the attention of the audience and the jury. As the jury commented, although the film starts with violence and cruelty, as the story develops and heads toward its ending it purifies these sins with the forgiveness and salvation that lie inside humanity. I think this is what moved them.
    - Even the day before the closing ceremony, internationally influential presses predicted that the final winner of the festival would be either your Pieta or Paul Thomas ANDERSON’s The Master. What do you think about the competition?
    KIM: Paul Thomas ANDERSON is one of the very best directors of the United States, having directed Magnolia and There Will Be Blood. He was won awards at many film festivals by investigating the depths of humanity in his works. I was honored to compete against him. The Master was not only the Silver Lion winner, but it also earned Philip Seymour HOFFMAN and Joaquin Phoenix the Best Actor’s Award, sharing it together. A number of big directors presented films about violence and religion in the competition section this year. I wouldn’t have won the prize among such competition without all those who have helped me.
    - I know you have a close connection to Alberto BARBERA, the director of the Venice Film Festival. He was the one who first introduced The Isle to the world 12 years ago. Has he told you anything since you were awarded the prize?
    KIM: He and Michael MANN, the head of jury, were the ones who really helped me bring Pieta to the festival. Alberto BARBERA has constantly told me that he is immensely fascinated by the messages of my film. I know he also said the messages would touch audiences at interviews. Before the awards presentation, he personally said to me, “Don’t go back too early. I want to make sure you'll be at the closing ceremony.”
    - This is the first time that a Korean film has won the top prize at the world's three major film festivals. Who do you want to thank the most?
    KIM: The honor of winning the Golden Lion was due onl to the actors and the staff who worked with me. It wouldn’t have been possible without them.
    CHO: The director is the first one to take credit. Since he, as an internationally renowned director, proved his capabilities right here, I hope Korean moviegoers to show a lot of love for Pieta.
    - The global media was surprised when you sang "Arirang" after being awarded, and the scene has been broadcast via international news. Why did you do that?
    KIM: I sang it too when I won Un Certain Regard at the Cannes International Film Festival with Arirang last year. To repeat what I said earlier in Korea, Arirang was an answer to the questions I asked myself over the last four years and a sort of a soul-cleansing ritual for me. I wanted to show the world something that best represents Korea along with the messages in Pieta.
    - What are your future plans and dreams?
    KIM: I will try to continuously bring good films to audiences. Pieta was released in Korea a few days ago, so my biggest dream at the moment is that a lot of people will watch my film.
    CHO: As Pieta has helped me realize facets of myself hidden inside of me, I would like to have a chance to play a new kind of role in another good film.
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