Complex thrillers lead the pack in annual film awards

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Complex thrillers lead the pack in annual film awards

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A scene from “The Chaser,” above, and right, a scene from “Seven Days,” both films that are nominated for best film as well as best director at the Daejong Film Awards this year. [JoongAng Ilbo]

The biggest event in the Korean film industry is back.

On June 27, the 45th Daejong Film Awards will take place at COEX, southern Seoul. This year one of the Korean films under the spotlight is “The Chaser,” a film about a serial murderer.

The film drew audiences of more than 5 million, and as of April it is the most successful Korean film of 2008, according to the Korean Film Council.

“Forever the Moment” trailed behind The Chaser with over 4 million viewers.

The Chaser currently is nominated in 11 categories, hoping to win the hearts of film critics as well.

This year thrillers are garnering the most interest in Chungmuro, Korea’s Hollywood.

Currently the top three films on the most nominated lists are from this genre.

“Seven Days,” a thriller about a child who gets kidnapped, is second in the number of nominations.

The film is nominated in all 10 categories. “Shadows in the Palace,” a thriller that takes place within the palace of the Joseon Dynasty, is nominated in eight categories.

Compared with comedies, dramas or action films, thrillers lacked quality.

“Since ‘Memories of Murder’ in 2003, hardly any satisfying thrillers have been made,” said the film critic Jeon Chan-il.

“The success of these three films is good news [for the film industry] as it shows that a single genre can captivate audiences,” Jeon continued.

Thrillers are also notoriously difficult to pull off since the plots are highly complex, Jeon added.

Another point of interest is that The Chaser and Shadows in the Palace were directed by rookies who made their debut as film directors through these movies.

Seven Days is Won Shin-yeon’s third feature film. He previously directed “The Wig” and “A Bloody Aria.”

Won was chosen recently to direct “V,” a film about Korea’s most beloved robot, Taekwon V.

“Until now the Korean film industry was led by artistic directors such as Park Chan-wook and Hong Sang-soo,” said Kim Bong-seok, a film critic. “It is interesting and positive how Korean commercial films are gaining strength.”

Film fans here are currently fascinated by the best male actor award. Those vying for the award are Kim Yoon-seok, who plays the corrupt cop in The Chaser; Ha Jeong-woo, who plays the serial killer in the same movie; Song Kang-ho, who starred in the film “Secret Sunshine (Milyang)”; and Im Chang-jeong, who plays a scout who tries to recruit Korea’s famous pitcher, Sun Dong-yeul, in the black comedy “Scout.”

Kim from The Chaser won the best supporting actor award last year for his role as the devious card player in “The War of Flower.”

Competition for the best female actor award is expected to be fierce. One of the nominees is Kim Hye-sook, 53.

Kim has been nominated for best lead actress for her role as a mother in love with her daughter’s boyfriend in the low-budget film “Viva Love.”

She is also on the list for best supporting actress for her role as an ex-convict in the film “Open City.”

She could take home two awards, or nothing at all.

One disappointment of the film awards show is that many of the movies nominated for best film are also nominated in the best director category.

While the movie The Chaser is nominated for best film, its director Na Hong-jin is nominated for best director.

Secret Sunshine is also nominated for best film and its director Lee Chang-dong is up for best director.

Happiness, nominated for best film, has its director Heo Jin-ho on the list for best film.

It is the same for the film “The Happy Life,” and the director Lee Joon-ik as well as “Seven Days” and its director Won Shin-yeon.

Last year a low-budget film, “The Birth of a Family,” won best film.

The Daejong Film Awards are jointly organized by the JoongAng Ilbo, SBS, Korean Film Council and Daesung Group.

The award ceremony starts at 8:40 p.m. and runs for two hours. The show is broadcast live on SBS.

The evaluation is made by 10 movie experts and 50 members of the public.

The evaluation of experts will account for 60 percent of the vote.

There are 19 categories for the awards show, including best acting and best technology.

The main vote will take place between June 16 and 27 at Seoul Cinema in Jongno, downtown Seoul.


By Park Jeong-ho JoongAng Ilbo [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]

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