Local Films to Shine at Cannes Fest

By Han Sang-hee
Staff Reporter

A total of 10 Korean movies will be shown at the Cannes International Film Festival from May 13-24, marking the highest number of local films ever to be included in the prestigious event's roster.

The first local film ever to be invited to the event was Lee Doo-yong's "Spinning the Tales of Cruelty Towards Women" for the Un Certain Regard section in 1984, and since then, more than 40 local works have been presented at the southern French port city over the past 20 years.

One of the most anticipated films this year is Park Chan-wook's "Thirst", which is vying for the Palme d'Or, the highest prize given to competing films, as well as the Best Actor and Actress Awards. The movie about the vampire-turned-priest has been captivating audiences here, attracting more than 600,000 fans during the first three days of its release.

The entry to the Palme d'Or is significant, as it was only eight years ago when the first Korean film, "Chunhyang" by veteran director Im Kwon-taek, was nominated in the prestigious section. Since then, eight films were given the honor as nominees, "Thirst" being the latest.

This is the second time that one of Park's movies has been nominated at Cannes, the first being "Old Boy" in 2004. The film won the Grand Prix at the festival that year. As for actor Song Kang-ho, who plays the vampire/priest, this will be his fourth visit to Cannes, following his appearance for "The Host"(2006), "Secret Sunshine" (2007) and "The Good, the Bad, the Weird" (2008).

The Un Certain Regard section presents a score of films with distinctive visions and styles that seek international recognition, and fans can watch "Mother - 2009" by Bong Joon-ho ("The Host") this year. Bong, invited to the event for the third time, will join veteran actress Kim Hye-ja and actor Won Bin on the red carpet. Kim plays a distressed mother who fights for her son's (Won) innocence against a false charge of homicide.

In Cannes Classics, the restored version of late director Shin Sang-ok's "Prince Yeonsan" (1961) will be screened. This particular section presents restored classic movies from around the world. Last year, the black and white piece "The Housemaid - 1960" (1960) by the late director Kim Ki-young was presented in the section.

Creative works by aspiring directors will also greet fans at Cannes through Cinefoundation, the competition section for students. "Don't Step Out of the House" by Jo Sung-hee and "Horn" by Yim Kyung-dong will compete with other works made by students from around the world.

"A Brand New Life" by French director Ounie Lecomte will be presented at the Special Screenings section of the festival. The movie about a nine-year-old orphan Jin-hee was co-produced by Korean and French filmmakers. Director Lee Chang-dong, who will be present as a jury member, joined in the production.

Hong Sang-soo's "Like You Know It All" will be featured at the Directors' Fortnight section, while Jung Yu-mi-III's animated film "Dust Kid" will be featured as part of the Short Films lineup. The two independent sections are run by the French Directors Society and program a selection of works during the festival.

"Like You Know It All" star Kim Tae-woo will be at Cannes for the first time in five years, his last visit being for the film "Woman is the Future of Man" by Hong in 2004. This year will be particularly special for Kim as his brother, actor Kim Tae-hoon, will also be present at the festival for director Moon Seong-hyeok's "6 Hours", which was included in the Special Screenings section of the Cannes Film Festival's Critics Week.

Finally, "Land of Scarecrows" by director Noh Kyeong-tae and co-produced by Korea and France will pay a visit to Cannes as part of the Programmation ACID Cannes 2009. This program is organized by the Association for Independent Cinema and Broadcasting and is held during the film festival every year.
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