By Lee Hyo-won
Director Park Chan-wook
, who won the Jury Prize at the 62nd Cannes International Film Festival for "Thirst" Sunday, said he had secretly anticipated a win, he told reporters in Seoul Thursday.
"The audience's response was so heated. I wouldn't be able to win if the jury didn't like it, but it was the first time I ever received such a heartfelt ovation, so I began to hope for the chance", he said. This is his second Jury Prize ― which he shared with Andrea Arnold's "Fish Tank" ― from the prestigious French event after "Old Boy"
"Thirst" is a bloody thriller about a priest who turns into a vampire and agonizes over his newfound desire for blood and sex. The film received critical acclaim, but the response among regular moviegoers is often split.
It was the first time a vampire film entered the competition pool at Cannes.
"I heard it was the first vampire film entered the competition pool in the history of Cannes. In Korea, `Thirst' is treated like a peculiar film, but Cannes seemed to have regarded it as a special case where a mainstream movie made it to an art film festival. `Thirst' seems destined to be treated like an art film at the box office and a mainstream movie in the festival circuit. I think that characteristic may have appealed (to the jury)", he said.
The festive occasion, however, coincided with some unfortunate events. Park said he was greatly shocked by the recent deaths of former President Roh Moo-hyun and Achim Pictures head Jung Seung-hye, who was a friend of his.
"When I heard of the deaths, my legs were so shaky I couldn't stand straight. But I still had to conduct interviews and take part in events in my state of shock. I had to do my duty", he said. Park said he visited Daehanmun, where the late Roh is lying in state. "It's a paradox, but I thought, `one great commoner'. I saw high school girls stopping by on the way to school, and it occurred to me that this is a country that is dependent on high school girls".
Meanwhile, Park also commented about the congratulatory telegram President Lee Myung-bak sent him, saying it was the first time he ever received one. "When I was young I remember how boxing champions received a congratulatory telegram. It felt surreal and strange", he said.
The filmmaker also addressed certain reactions to his film, how some criticized him "for making the film in a certain way to take the film to Cannes" and "that Song Kang-ho
's (private parts) revealing scene was to cater to Cannes".
"These are unique yet overly wild imaginations", he said.
As for his future plans, he said, "If there is a good story, then I can film anywhere, whether it be Japan or China. But my main activities will be centered around Korea".
"Thirst" is enjoying success at the local box-office, having attracted over 2.1 million viewers since its release April 30.