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Five Korean films join Cannes fest

2008/05/15 Source

The 61st Cannes Film Festival has kicked off with fanfare, spicing up the festive mood for moviegoers all around the world. The ebullient mood remains largely the same here in Korea, but one thing is palpably different: There's no chance for a Korean movie or actor grabbing an award in the competition section this year.

Last year was special for the Korean film industry. Jeon Do-yeon won the prestigious best actress award for her impassioned role in the heart-wrenching flick "Secret Sunshine". This year, however, such dramatic development is unlikely to occur because no Korean film has been invited to the competition section.

But it is too early to shift attention from Korean filmmakers toward Hollywood stars. After all, five Korean movies are to be screened in various sections at Cannes, and all of them have a potential to charm foreign filmmakers, critics and media in various ways.

At the forefront stands director Kim Jee-woon's big-budget flick "The Good, the Bad, the Weird", which is one of the official selections in the Out of Competition section. The movie, set in Manchuria in the 1930s, is one of the biggest Korean projects this year, with the star-studded cast drawing keen attention from local movie fans and critics. Song Kang-ho, Lee Byung-hun and Jung Woo-sung play rebellious characters in an exotic style.

In the Un Certain Regard section, director Bong Joon-ho's "TOKYO!" -- an omnibus film produced through a Korea-Japan-France joint venture project -- has been invited, and what's notable is the renowned Korean filmmaker's efforts to expand his moviemaking coverage. Bong recruited Japanese actors to portray a sense of isolation and the meaning of affection by focusing on the travails of a group of Japanese who are sidelined and shunned in society.

In the Midnight Screenings section, director Na Hong-jin's "The Chaser" will be featured. The film, released in mid-February, emerged as Korea's top film in the first half of this year thanks to its heart-pumping dramatization that outsmarted other competitors, including Hollywood blockbusters. The film's success came as a surprise because its budget was smaller than other mainstream Korean films and main actors were relatively low-profile. Defying skepticism, however, the film drew enthusiastic response from Korean moviegoers largely due to its fast-paced storytelling and the actors' dedicated performances.

Also joining the Cannes programs is Park Jae-ok, whose animated short, "Stop", will be featured in the Cinefondation section. Park graduated from the Korean Film Academy this year and is regarded as a promising younger-generation filmmaker.

Kim Ki-young's 1960 masterpiece "The Housemaid - 1960" will be also screened in the Cannes Classics section.

Some of the Korean filmmakers and actors have already taken steps to join the festival. To promote "The Chaser", director Na Hong-jin and main actors Kim Yun-seok and Ha Jung-woo have flown to Cannes. In particular, Ha will make it to Cannes for the third time after he had visited the festival for his roles for Yoon Jong-bin's "The Unforgiven" (Un Certain Regard section in 2006) and Kim Ki-duk's "Breath" (competition section in 2007).

Kim Jee-woon, Song Kang-ho, and Jung Woo-sung are scheduled to leave for France next Thursday to promote "The Good, the Bad, the Weird". Lee Byung-hun, who is working on his Hollywood debut film "G.I. Joe", will also join the team to hold a press conference and red-carpet events.

Korean movie sales firms led by CJ Entertainment, Mirovision, Showbox, Show East, and Sidus FNH also attended Cannes by setting up their booths in the Cannes Market.

By Yang Sung-jin

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