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  • Silver Leopard Triumph for HONG Sangsoo in Locarno
  • by Pierce Conran /  Aug 18, 2013
  • First Korean Best Director Win at Swiss Fest
     

    HONG Sangsoo recorded a historic win last night at the Locarno International Film Festival, by becoming the first Korean filmmaker to be awarded the Silver Leopard. His 15th feature Our Sunhi took the prize at the festival’s 66th edition. This marks HONG’s first major festival award since his Prix Un Certain Regard triumph in 2010 with Hahaha at the Cannes Film Festival. The Locarno award came with a cash prize of CHF 30,000 (KRW 36 million).
     
    Starring JUNG Yu-mi, JUNG Jae-young, Lee Sun-kyun and KIM Sang-joong, Our Sunhi tells the story of a recently graduated film student who returns to her campus to ask her former professor for a recommendation letter in order to study in the US. While there, she meets two film directors: one just getting started in the industry, the other well established.
     
    Korean films have had a lengthy history at the respected Swiss film festival ever since PARK Kwang-su picked up the Youth Jury 3rd Prize for Chil-Su and Man-Su in 1988. The Korean new wave cineaste also picked up the same award 11 years later for The Upprising. Korean cinema's crowning achievement at Locarno came in 1989 when BAE Yong-kyoon was awarded the Golden Leopard for Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?. Other awardees include KIM Ho-jong, who won the Best Actress prize for MOON Seung-wook’s Nabi-The Butterfly in 2001, while KIM Ki-duk’s Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring earned no less than four prizes in 2003 (Don Quixote Award, Netpac, C.I.C.A.E., Youth Jury Award). In recent years, KIM Young-nam won the Netpac and FIPRESCI prizes for Don’t Look Back in 2006 while NOH Young-seok walked away with the Netpac prize for 2008’s Daytime Drinking.
     
    Our Sunhi is HONG’s second feature this year, following Nobody’s Daughter Haewon, which was invited to the Berlin International Film Festival’s main competition in February. Also present in this year’s Locarno lineup were CHO Se-rae’s debut feature The Stone and the Jeonju Digital Project 2013. The 66th edition of the Locarno International Film Festival took place from August 7th to 17th.
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