Korean films head for festivals overseas

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Korean films head for festivals overseas

Last year was a memorable one for Korean cinema, as the industry cemented its position as a darling of international film festivals.
Director Park Chan-wook won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in May for “Old Boy,” with the wholehearted support of jury head Quentin Tarantino. In September, director Kim Ki-duk returned home with flying colors after “3-Iron” brought him the Best Director award at the Venice festival, an unexpected success. Prospects for 2005 seem to be bright as well, with Korean films making a good start.
The first in line are two films, “This Charming Girl,” directed by Lee Yoon-ki, and “Green Chair,” by Park Chul-su, to be presented at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, which opens tomorrow in Park City, Utah. Taking part in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition, the two films will be vying for the award with 14 others.
The feature film debut for Mr. Lee, “This Charming Girl” takes a delicate and sophisticated look at the uneventful life of an unremarkable woman, Jeong-hae, played by TV actress Kim Ji-soo. Living a rather detached life, Jeong-hae slowly opens her heart to the outer world with the arrival of a new love, a story that is subtly described through the director’s handheld camera.
Also featured at October’s Pusan International Film Festival, “This Charming Girl” won a New Currents award for fledgling directors and their films. The film received the award following a unanimous decision by the jury.
Receiving much acclaim at the Pusan festival, “This Charming Girl” attracted interest from many festival organizers from around the world, including those from Sundance.
Mr. Lee, who also wrote the screenplay, seems to have a busy year in store as the film has also been invited to compete in the International Forum of New Cinema section at the Berlin International Film Festival starting Feb. 10. Then, the film is to open at home in early March.
“Green Chair,” on the other hand, is a long-awaited production by Mr. Park, an experienced, low-profile figure. Following his past work, such as his last film, “Bongja” (2000), “Green Chair” describes a fateful love affair between a housewife in her 30s and a teenage high school boy, based on a true story. Mr. Park also wrote the screenplay, and cast actress Suh Jeong as the lead in the film, which is scheduled to open in March in Korea.
At Sundance this year, “Old Boy” and “3-Iron” will be screened in the “Park City at Midnight” and Premieres sections, respectively. Last year, the festival gave the Freedom of Expression award to a Korean documentary, “Repatriation” by Kim Dong-won.
Another Korean film, “So Cute,” is trying its luck in the International Film Festival of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, starting next Wednesday. Directed and written by Kim Soo-hyun, who is making his feature film debut, “So Cute” tells the story of a father and his three sons, who are in love with the same girl, in a sometimes comic and overblown manner yet one that reflects criticism over society’s absurdities.
“So Cute,” also presented at last year’s Pusan festival in the New Currents section, has enjoyed much acclaim worldwide, with invitations from the Moscow festival last June and Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival starting Feb. 24 in Japan.

by Chun Su-jin
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