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Nominees for Grand Bell Awards Stir Controversy

2009/10/26 Source

The Grand Bell (Daejong) Awards, a prestigious film award in Korea, have stirred controversy yet again. The list of Best Leading Actress nominees that was announced October 21 includes Kim Gyu-ri ("Portrait of a Beauty"), Soo Ae ("Sunny"), Kim Hye-ja ("Mother - 2009"), Choi Kang-hee ("Ae-ja") and Jang Nara ("Sky and Sea").

Nominees for the Best Picture award are "Mother", "Sky and Sea", "The Divine Weapon", "Haeundae" and "Take Off".

The controvery arose because actress Ha Ji-won of "Closer to Heaven" and "Haeundae", which drew more than 10 million vieiwers, and actress Kim Ha-neul of the hit movie "My Girlfriend is an Agent" were not included on the list. Morever, the movie "Thirst", which received the Jury Award at this year's Cannes Film Festival, and Kim Jee-woon's "The Good, the Bad, the Weird" also failed to be nominated for the Best Picture or the Best Director awards.

"Sky and Sea", which is to open on October 28 just a week before the awards ceremony, has been nominated in four categories: Best Picture, Best Leading Actress, Best New Actress and Best Music.

Movies that are qualified to compete for this year's Grand Bell awards are those films that were produced between May 2008 and September 2009, have been rated by the Korea Media Rating Board, and have been screened at theaters or are scheduled for release. In that respect, "Sky and Sea" fully qualifies. The awards organizing committee said that "Sky and Sea" was qualified because it had been completed within the required period and because no problems had been detected in the deliberation process.

With regard to the omission of Ha Ji-won's movies, the committee said that the deliberation process focused not on the actress but on her roles and that the committee was split on whether to choose Ha's role in "Haeundae" or in "Closer to Heaven". But the committee's explanation has done little to convince movie fans. The bulletin board of the festival Web site was flooded with messages expressing anger.

Adding to the scandal was the fact that the awards ceremony was originally scheduled for early June but was postponed to November due to the lack of movies.

It is not the first time the festival aroused controversy. A person from a movie production company said that in the past, domestic production firms whose productions received awards were allowed to import foreign films, which resulted in conspiracy and lobbying. He added that the most shameful aspect was that the Grand Bell festival continues to cause problems because it is still dominated by filmmakers from the "old era", unlike other film awards that are organized by mass media.

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