Anti-screen quota reduction protests were held at the Cannes International Film Festival. Actor CHOI Min-sik and director BONG Joon-ho joined in. Through the release of a statement, the board of directors of the Cannes International Film Festival also acknowledged their support to the cause.
The board of directors unanimously supports the protests stating that the Korean screen quota had played a major role in the development of a great diversity in Korean cinema, which Cannes supports and respects. Protests have been staged in front of Palais du Cinema in the evening when the major premiere galas took place.
Although the anti-screen quota reduction protests seem to be a lost battle, the renowned actor CHOI Min-sik came to Cannes for the protests. Throughout the campaign, CHOI has been active in the protests and outspoken against the screen quota cut decision. At Cannes he announced that he will continue fighting for the screen quota anyway, even if the chances of success are virtually non-existent. CHOI gained international recognition with his leading role in the 2004 Cannes Grand Prix winner Old Boy (PARK Chan-wook).
He is joined in Cannes by the renowned director BONG Joon-ho and first-time feature film director YOON Jong-bin. BONG's film The Host premieres at Cannes and YOON's film The Unforgiven was also invited to Cannes after a successful round at Pusan International Film Festival.
The Korean screen quota required cinemas to show Korean films 146 days a year. The measure became effective around 1993 and since then Korean cinema has improved spectacularly, with many believing that the screen quota played a major role in the revival. Hollywood and the American government have been lobbying for many years against the screen quota. During the last free trade negotiations with the United States after some failed previous negotiations - the South Korean government decided to reduce the screen quota to 73 days a year from this July.
Protestors believe that Korean cinema can't compete with the big money of Hollywood and fear for the loss of Korean cinema's diversity and identity. Often cited as an example is the medium-budget film The King and the Clown. The film had a modest release, but because the film was well-made the film gained a growing audience and resulted in becoming the most popular Korean film. With a reduced and powerless screen quota, it is argued, such low and medium budget - and seemingly non mainstream films probably won't be made.
Yi Ch'ang-ho (KOFIC)
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