"I came to Berlin for the first time six years ago for the movie, "JSA - Joint Security Area
". Back then people thought Korean movies were unfamiliar and I felt rustic. I feel proud seeing Korean films being acknowledged in the global arena now".
Over the phone, director Park Chan-wook
's voice conveyed more surprise than joy. Park received the Alfred Bauer prize for the movie, "I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK
" on the night of February 17 (local time) at the 57th Berlin International Film Festival awards ceremony. The prize is one of the main awards given to a work that "takes the art of film in a new direction". Director Jang Sun-woo
's movie "Hwaeomkyung" also received this award in 1994.
For the final selection, 22 out of the participating 370 works competed, and the Chinese film "Tuya's Marriage" (Directed by Wang Quan'an) took home the highest Golden Bear prize, while the director of the Israeli film Beaufort, Joseph Cedar, received the Silver Bear for best director.
In his acceptance speech, Park said, "I'm fascinated by the interest given to me, and by the hospitality given to Korean movies. People in the industry here ask me, 'Why have you changed your style so much?' It's evidence that they've seen a lot of my movies. Some say that it's a unique interpretation of a schizophrenic's delusions, and a judge sang a yodel song that a character named Il-soon (Singer Rain
, Jung Ji-hoon) sang in the movie right in front of me".
Did he expect the nomination? He replied, "The day before the ceremony, I got a call from the committee telling me to stay in the country for the award, but I didn't know which award it was for. I've neglected my family, so I'm hoping that my wife will say, 'It's okay for my husband to be a film director' on behalf of this award".
Park confessed that the film had tormented him for some time. Released in late 2006, the movie was the talk of the town even before its premiere, with a pop star singer and a famous actress cast as the leads. But after its opening, it was said to be complex and boring, and failed at the box office.
"It was made into a commercial film and because we didn't even break even, I felt sorry for the investors. I wanted the audience to accept the metaphors and symbolisms in the movie as they were instead of abstractly. I still can't see what's so complex about this film. I guess the investors won't be sorry since it got recognition abroad and the deficit will be covered by exports of the film".
After spending the holidays in Berlin and returning to Korea, he added, "I wish it will be a good New Year's Day for my family and for the Korean film industry".
"As soon as I get back to Korea I want to brag to Il-soon and Young-gun (Im Soo-jung
). Other directors got up on stage with their actors and I was envious of that. I guess it's really okay now for Il-soon and Young-gun to be Cyborgs", he laughed.