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Korean Films Compete at 60th Cannes

2007/04/20 | 258 views | Permalink | Source

Two internationally renowned Korean directors will present their latest efforts in the Competition section on the 60th anniversary of the Cannes International Film Festival. Lee Chang-dong's "Secret Sunshine" and Kim Ki-duk's "Breath" will have their International Premiers along with 19 other contenders for the coveted Grand Prize and Palme d'Or, the event's top two awards. The festival will run May 16th to 27th in the city synonymous with cinema, on the southeast coast of France.

Korean presence at Cannes remains strong this year while overall Asian presence has dimmed. Of the 21 competition films, only four come from Asia, while US and European films dominate. The international co-production éBlueberry Nightsé by Hong Kong's leading auteur WONG Kar Wai, will open the festival. The other Asian pick is Japanese director Naomi Kawase's The Forest of Mogari.

KOFIC will again set up a venue during the festival to provide a range of services and publications on Korean film. Along with "Breath" and "Secret Sunshine", two Korean shorts join the Official Selection: "My Dear Rosseta" by Yang Hae-hoon in the Competition Shorts section, and "A Reunion" by HONG Seong-hoon in the Cinefondation section. The latter section presents the best short films made by students from film schools around the world.

Director Kim Ki-duk's 14th feature will be his first in competition at Cannes. KIM has won recognition around the world for his films, including the Berlin Silver Bear for "Samaritan Girl" ("Samaria") and the Venice Silver Lion for "3-Iron", both in 2004. His 2005 film "The Bow" was shown in Cannes' Un Certain Regard section. "Breath" is the odd but poignant tale of the friendship that grows between a mute death row inmate and a disillusioned housewife. It stars Taiwanese actor Chang Chen and actress Park Ji-ah. It has been pre-sold to a dozen countries including France, and is released locally April 26th.

"Secret Sunshine" is Lee Chang-dong's fourth feature, and marks his return to directing after a 5-year hiatus that included a term as Korea's Minister of Culture and Tourism. His previous film, Oasis, won the Venice Special Director's Prize in 2002. "Peppermint Candy" screened in the Cannes Director's Fortnight in 2000. His highly anticipated comeback is the story of a recently widowed woman who relocates to a small town where tragedy awaits her. It stars two of Korea's leading actors, Jeon Do-yeon and Song Kang-ho, and is slated for a local release around the same time as Cannes.

Coincidentally, neither KIM nor LEE were formally trained in filmmaking. KIM studied fine arts in Paris for two years while LEE began his career as an award-winning novelist. Both entered filmmaking on the strength of their original screenplays.

Nigel D'Sa (KOFIC)

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