South Korea organizes a big evening in Cannes with actor and director awards


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Cannes (France) (AFP) – South Korea’s film industry added to a string of global victories on Saturday by winning two key awards at the Cannes Film Festival for a pair of beloved veterans.

Star filmmaker Park Chan-wook snagged the best director award for his erotic thriller ‘Decision To Leave’ while Song Kang-ho, best known for his role in Oscar-winning ‘Parasite’, snagged the gong for best actor for “Broker”.

Park’s entry into Cannes came nearly two decades after his “Oldboy” won the festival’s second prize in 2004.

This mind-bending clash helped propel South Korean cinema onto the world stage – years before “Parasite”, which won the 2019 Palme d’Or and best picture at the 2020 Oscars.

Park, 58, told Cannes audiences he was optimistic about the future of cinema.

“With the pandemic, the borders were closed. We were very afraid of everyone and the theaters were empty, but little by little the public will rediscover cinema,” Park said.

“Decision to Leave” features Chinese star Tang Wei and Korean actor Park Hae-il and tells the story of a detective who, while investigating a man’s fatal fall from a mountain, falls under the charm of the victim’s wife, whom he suspects of having caused the death of her husband.

“Not a Romantic”

The detective story, which has drawn comparisons to the much more sexually explicit thriller “Basic Instinct,” increasingly merges with the mutual attraction engulfing the main characters.

“I’m not a romantic, but I’m very interested in expressing emotions,” Park told AFP at the film’s premiere at the festival.

Park is “interested in expressing emotions” Loïc Venance AFP

The film’s haunting soundtrack includes the Adagietto from Gustav Mahler’s 5th Symphony, immortalized in the 1971 film “Death in Venice” by Luchino Visconti.

Park said the film was inspired by the methodical police work contained in Swedish “Martin Beck” detective novels. “That’s what I wanted to represent in a film,” he said.

“Decision To Leave” was warmly welcomed by the Cannes public. The BBC called it a “stunning romantic thriller” and Britain’s Screen magazine said it was a “deeply satisfying” tale.

‘Bittersweet and complex’

Song, 55, won acting honors for his role in ‘Broker’ about a woman dropping an unwanted child into a ‘baby box’ for adoption.

He plays a kind-hearted middleman trying to sell the child to a loving family in Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Korean language debut.

Kore-eda won the Palme d’Or in 2018 for his touching family tale “Shoplifters”.

“I’m very happy for my whole family,” Song said as he accepted the trophy at the gala ceremony on the French Riviera.

A true national treasure, Song has starred in many of the divided country’s biggest films.

Song has made four films with “Parasite” director Bong Joon-ho, including the 2006 monster flick “The Host” and Bong’s English language debut “Snowpiercer,” both of which were box office hits. and critical successes.

Beginning his career on stage, Song made his first film appearance in 1996 in the now acclaimed director Hong Sang-soo’s debut film, “The Day a Pig Fell into a Well.”

Since then, he has appeared in over 30 films and worked with top South Korean filmmakers including Park Chan-wook, Kang Je-gyu and Lee Chang-dong.

UK film magazine Screen called “Broker” a “sensitive and compassionate look at the market for unwanted children”, while US film website IndieWire said it was a “sweet family drama -bitter and complex”.

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