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Korean films continue winning streak at international film festivals

“The Woman Who Ran” by Hong Sang-soo (Berlin International Film Festival)
“The Woman Who Ran” by Hong Sang-soo (Berlin International Film Festival)

Korean films continue making history at the three big prestigious film festivals-- Berlin, Cannes and Venice.

South Korean director Hong Sang-soo on Saturday in Berlin won best director at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival for “The Woman Who Ran.” Last year, director Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” won the country’s first Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

It might seem like the country’s films have become the toast of the town in the global film scene overnight, but Korean cinema, which marked its centennial last year, has been entering international film festivals for some 60 years.

In 1961, “The Coachman,” directed by Kang Dae-jin, became the first Korean film to win at one of the big three international festivals. It won the Silver Bear Extraordinary Jury Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival.

In 1994, “Hwa-Om-Kyung,” by Jang Sun-woo, won the Alfred Bauer Prize at the Berlin film fest. “Samaritan Girl” by Kim Ki-duk was awarded the Silver Bear for best director in 2004. The following year, veteran director Im Kwon-taek received an Honorary Golden Bear at the German film festival.

In 2007, Park Chan-wook won the Alfred Bauer Prize, given to the most innovative film of the year, at the 57th Berlin film fest for romantic-comedy “I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK.” In 2011, Park’s 30-minute fantasy “Night Fishing,” which was co-directed with brother Park Chan-kyong, won the top prize for short film in Berlin.

In 2017, Kim Min-hee won the Silver Berlin Bear for best actress for her role in director Hong Sang-soo’s “On the Beach at Night Alone.”

This was not the first time a Korean actress won an award at an international film festival. Actresses Kang Soo-yeon and Jeon Do-yeon also won best actress awards at the 1987 Venice International Film Festival and 2007 Cannes Film Festival, respectively. Kang starred in “The Surrogate Woman,” by Im Kwon-ta다, and Jeon in “Secret Sunshine,” by Lee Chang-dong.

Other Korean films have also won notable awards at the Cannes festival.

Park Chan-wook won the Grand Prix award and Jury prize for “Oldboy” and “Thirst” at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004 and 2009, respectively. “Poetry” by Lee Chang-dong also won best screenplay at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.

At the Venice International Film Festival in 2012, “Pieta” by Kim Ki-duk also scored the prestigious Golden Lion.

By Song Seung-hyun (ssh@heraldcorp.com)
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