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'Secret Sunshine' Steals Limelight in Cannes

2007/05/27 Source

By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Staff Reporter

Korean actress Jeon Do-yeon is reaping critical acclaim from foreign critics, for her role in "Secret Sunshine" (Miryang) which was screened at the prestigious 60th Cannes Film Festival.

Since it was screened last week, "Secret Sunshine" has emerged as one of the leading contenders for the top prize, the Palme d'Or. Winners will be announced when the event ends on Sunday evening in France.

A New York Times article heaped praises on the film directed by Lee Chang-dong, a former culture minister.

Jeon was singled out for her depiction of a young widow who moves to her late husband's hometown. The article said Jeon gave one of the strongest female performances in the festival, hinting she may even win the best female performance award. "Jeon's portrayal of a meek soul in torment is a tour de force", the New York Times said.

Film industry journal Variety described Jeon's performance as "finely detailed". "Jeon's convinced playing, a trademark of the chameleon actress, keeps "Sunshine" watchable but can't inject real tension and drama on its own. On screen almost the whole time, Jeon carries the picture virtually single-handedly", it said.

If Jeon wins, she will be the first Korean actress to win an award at the Cannes Film Festival. Jeon is already a popular and multi-awarded actress in Korea, but is little known overseas.

There have been a handful of Korean actresses who have won awards in international film festivals. Kang Soo-yeon won the best actress award for the film "The Surrogate Woman" at the 1987 Venice International Film Festival.

Moon So-ri also won the best new actress award for her role in "Oasis" at the 2002 Venice International Film Festival. Moon received good reviews for her role as a woman with cerebral palsy in the film, which was also directed by Lee Chang-dong.

Jeon has won several domestic acting awards for her roles in films such as "The Harmonium in My Memory" and "My Mother, the Mermaid". She also appeared in the hit SBS drama "Lovers in Prague" in 2005.

In 2006, Jeon received the best leading actress award at the 43rd Taejong (Grand Bell) Film Festival for her role as a HIV/AIDS-stricken waitress in and "You are My Sunshine!" directed by Park Jin-pyo.

The local film industry is expecting that should either Jeon or the film win, it will provide a great boost to local cinema, which has been sliding recently.

Aside from "Secret Sunshine", another Korean film "Breath" by director Kim Ki-duk is also vying for the Palme d'Or. There are over 20 films competing for the top prize at Cannes.

In 2004, the film "Old Boy", directed by Park Chan-wook, won the Grand Prix, the second place honor at the Cannes. It was the first Korean film to win one of the top prizes at the prestigious festival.

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