Director Kim Ki-duk, left, speaks at a press conference on Wednesday in Seoul. Kim's latest work "Pieta", starring actress Jo Min-soo, center, and actor Lee Jung-jin, will vie for the top prize Golden Lion at the 69th Venice Film Festival which kicked off Wednesday. / Yonhap
By Rachel Lee, Kwaak Je-yup
It's the time of the year again when the world's finest film directors and stars flock to an island in north eastern Italy.
The Venice Film Festival, the oldest event of its kind in the world, opened Wednesday on the island of Lido, and veteran director Kim Ki-duk will represent Korea for the main competition.
"I would like to see and learn how other directors look at today's society", said Kim at a press conference on Wednesday in Seoul. "It will provide new perspectives".
"Pieta", his latest film, is among the 18 films chosen to vie for the top prize Golden Lion in Venice. It is up against some high-profile features by the likes of Terrence Malick, Paul Thomas Anderson and Brian de Palma. The festival opens with "The Reluctant Fundamentalist", by Mira Nair, an adaptation of the Moshin Hamid bestseller about a Pakistani Princeton graduate dealing with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
While declining to give any spoilers during the media event, the 51-year-old director said the new work takes a religious approach to aspects of real life such as fear and trouble.
It is the first time since Park Chan-wook's "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance" in 2005 that a Korean film will compete for the top prize in the Venice film festival, one of the world's three most authoritative events along with Festival de Cannes and the Berlinale.
"Pieta" marks Kim's fourth film to go to Venice since "The Isle" (2000), "Address Unknown" (2001) and "3-Iron" (2004). The last among the three won the Silver Lion, the best director award eight years ago.
"Pieta" is Kim's 18th feature film and refers to the biblical scene most famously depicted in Michelangelo's sculpture at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.
In the film, a heartless loan shark (Lee Jung-jin) is visited by a mysterious woman (Jo Min-soo) claiming to be his birth mother. But when she suddenly disappears, he discovers a tragic secret.
After his 1996 debut with "Crocodile", Kim is one of the most frequently invited directors to the world's three most prestigious film festivals. He is also known for his 2003 film, "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... And Spring" which depicted the life of a Buddhist monk and his young protege while encapsulating features of Buddhist philosophy.
Established in 1932, the Venice film festival is the oldest international film festival in the world. In its 69th edition, the Venice Film Festival ends on Sept. 8.
"Pieta" is to open in theaters nationwide on Sept. 6. Runs for 104 minutes. Rated for 18 and over. Distributed by Next Entertainment World (NEW)
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