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'Thirst' Wins Jury Prize

2009/05/25 Source

By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Staff Reporter

The dark vampire thriller "Thirst", directed by Park Chan-wook, won the Jury Prize at the prestigious Cannes International Film Festival in France, Sunday.

Park shared the festival's third place award with British director Andrea Arnold's teen drama "Fish Tank". The festival's top prize Palme d'Or was given to "The White Ribbon", a film about brutality in a 20th-century German town by Austrian director Michael Haneke.

"I think I still have a long way to go before I become a true artist. I must admit I have yet to experience the pangs of creation. All I have experienced is the joy of creation. When my first two films bombed at the box office, it was a long time before I could make this third feature. So this is an immense pleasure for me, from the conception of the film to its release ― except for the interviews. It's the last step for a film to be screened at the Cannes Festival", Park said after receiving his award.

The win was his second in Cannes after his film "Old Boy" received the Grand Jury Prize, the festival's second place honor, in 2004.

In his speech, Park gave special mention to actor Song Kang-ho, describing him as a "great friend and longtime partner in filmmaking".

In "Thirst", Song played the lead role of the priest who, after receiving a mysterious blood transfusion, turns into a ravenous vampire. He starts to lust after human blood and has an affair with his friend's wife (played by Kim Ok-vin).

The Cannes jury, led by French actress Isabelle Huppert, praised "Thirst" as a "unique noir film". Other members of the jury included Korean director Lee Chang-dong, Chinese actress Shu Qi and American actress Robin Wright Penn.

Korean President Lee Myung-bak also congratulated Park for receiving the prestigious international award.

"Winning an award at Cannes, which is one of the most renowned film festivals in the world, means the efforts of our film producers and the quality of their products were once again recognized by the world. I sincerely hope Korean films will take another great stride toward the international market, and on behalf of our citizens, I once again congratulate director Park, who has not only left a great mark in the history of our film industry, but also helped make all our movie-makers proud", Lee said in a personal message to Park, as quoted by Yonhap News.

"Thirst" competed against high-profile films by renowned directors such as Quentin Tarantino, Pedro Almodovar, Ang Lee and Jane Campion. It was the first Korean film to be co-produced and distributed by top Hollywood studio Universal Pictures, and has been sold to foreign buyers in 10 countries including France and Greece.

In Korea, the film is a box-office success having attracted 2.1 million viewers since it hit the local screens April 30.

"Thirst" marks the eighth time a Korean film has received a major award at Cannes. Director Im Kwon-taek received the Cannes director's award for "Chihwaseon" in 2002, while actress Jeon Do-yeon was named best actress in 2007 for "Secret Sunshine".

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