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K-Movie record winning 2 trophies at the 75th Festival de Cannes


Winning 2 trophies in the major categories, Korean films have conquered the 75th Festival de Cannes.  

Director Park Chanwook won the Best Director for Decision to Leave, while Actor Song Kangho won the Best Actor for Broker, a Korean film directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu. This is the first time a Korean male actor has won the Best Actor at the Festival de Cannes. It is also the first time that a Korean director won the Best Director at Cannes since Director Im Kwontaek of Chihwaseon.


Above all, this is the first time in Korean film history that two Korean films have won simultaneously in the competition category at the Festival de Cannes. 21 films were invited to the Competition section of the 75th Festival de Cannes in 2022. Among them, 2 Korean films were invited to the section, and both were awarded in the major categories. It is a very unusual case even at Cannes and a brilliant result that shows the high status of Korean films. 


The 75th Festival de Cannes, which opened on May 17, 2022, raised interest in Korean films throughout the festival by placing and screening anticipated Korean films in the early, mid, and late stages, respectively. On the 19th, when the festival just opened, they screened HUNT by ‘Director Lee Jungjae.’ Also, Decision to Leave, Director Park Chanwook’s first new movie in 6 years, was screened on the 23rd while Broker on the 26th, 2 days before the closing. While Lee Jungjae, a rookie director and global star of Squid Game, led the heated atmosphere of the early stage of the Festival de Cannes, the spotlight in the mid-stage focused on Director Park Chanwook. And finally, Broker took over the spotlight with Director Kore-eda Hirokazu and actors Song KanghoKang DongwonLee Jieun, and Lee Jooyoung, who attended the festival. Expectations for the awards for both Korean films increased as both the directors and the actors of Decision to Leave and Broker appeared on the red carpet at the closing ceremony at 8 p.m. (Local time) on May 28.




Director Park Chanwook, Winning the Best Director for Decision to Leave, “Aware of the value of cinema!”


Director Park Chanwook stood on the red carpet on May 23 with Chinese star Tang Wei and Korean actor Park Haeil. In an interview during the Festival de Cannes, the director said, “It is customary for candidates for the Golden Camera Award to watch an invited film in the Competition section together, and I was happy to hear that they chose my film Decision to Leave.” As a result, Director Lee Jungjae of HUNT participated in the premier of Decision to Leave, heating up the atmosphere on the red carpet. It looked like Director Lee Jungjae handed over the baton of ‘K-Movie Fever’ to Director Park Chanwook


Director Park Chanwook’s Decision to Leave premiered on the same day as David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future. Both directors are masters of this era who have brought genre films to the level of art. Many Hollywood stars such as Viggo Mortensen, the director’s persona, Leah Seydoux, and Christine Stewart starred in Crimes of the Future, Cronenberg’s new film. The day after when the world’s best two directors’ new films were released, who have made the most genre and artistic films, the media at the Festival de Cannes all highly appreciated Decision to Leave


The Guardian in the UK gave Director Park Chanwook’s Decision to Leave a perfect five-star rating, calling it “a gorgeously and grippingly made picture.” Also, ‘Screen Daily’, which publishes the ratings of the competitors during the festival, gave the film 3.2 points, exceeding an average of 3 points for the first time this year, along with the evaluation that “Director Park Chanwook raised the standards of Cannes’ Competition in 2022.” Hollywood stars and the winners of Palme d’Or returned to the Competition and drew attention this year, but the response to their films was somewhat quiet. However, Park Chanwook's Decision to Leave began to be mentioned as a strong candidate for the Palme d’Or right after its premiere.


When Park Chanwook’s name was called for the Best Director at the closing ceremony on the 28th, he took the podium with a relaxed smile. After being invited to the Festival de Cannes this year, the director delivered a consistent message: “Back to the theater!” Through his acceptance speech, Park Chanwook said, “As we faced the age of Covid-19 pandemic, there were times when we raised our national barriers but we also unanimously shared fear and worries. We faced a time when theaters were cut off from the people, and it was the time that we were aware of the value of cinema. As we have hope and power to overcome this pandemic, I believe that we cineastes will forever uphold the value of films and theaters,” stressing the recovery of the theater. 


Director Park Chanwook won the Grand Prix for Old Boy (2004) and the Jury Prize for THURST (2009), followed by the Best Director for Decision to Leave. The film Decision to Leave is his 4th film that was invited to the Festival de Cannes. 





Actor Song Kangho of Broker, “Thanking Director Kore-eda Hirokazu, a Great Artist” 


Actor Song Kangho also rewrote the Korean cinema history by winning the Best Actor at Cannes for the first time. It is the second time that a Korean actor has won an acting award at Cannes since Jeon Doyeon, who won the Best Actress for Secret Sunshine (2007). It is the third time that an Asian actor has won the Best Actor at Cannes after Tony Leung Chiu-wai in In the Mood for Love (2000) and Yagira Yuya in Nobody Knows (2007). 


This is the 7th time for Actor Song Kangho to visit the Festival de Cannes, and many people predicted the possibility of winning his Best Actor when Broker was invited to the Festival de Cannes this year, starring Song and directed by Japanese Director Kore-eda Hirokazu, the winner of the Palme d’Or for Shoplifters in 2018. In BrokerSong played the role of a ‘broker,’ who steals babies abandoned in a ‘Baby Box’ and sells them to couples who want babies. 


When Song Kangho’s name was called for the Best Actor at the closing ceremony, Director Park Chanwook and Actor Park Haeil, who were sitting a little far away, came to Song and hugged him warmly before he was going up on stage. Holding the Best Actor Trophy, Actor Song Kangho said in French, “Merci beaucoup.” And then he continued in Korean, “I’m so grateful and honored. I would like to thank Director Kore-eda, who is a great artist. I also want to share this gratitude and honor with our cast members of Kang DongwonLee JieunLee Jooyoung, and Bae Doona. I’m glad as this feels like a great gift to my beloved family who came here with me. I dedicate the honor of this trophy and the endless love to them. Finally, I’d like to dedicate this honor to the movie fans of the world.” 


In addition to winning Song Kangho’s Best Actor, Broker won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. Although the prize is not the main award, it is given to the films to honor artistic quality, which witnesses the power of film to reveal the mysterious depths of human beings through what concerns them, their hurts, and failings as well as their hopes. Director Kore-eda Hirokazu also won a commendation from the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury for Like Father, Like Son in 2013. 





K-Movie, the Hub of Asia and the Center of the Global Film Industry 


Meanwhile, during the 75th Festival de Cannes, the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) operated ‘the K-Movie Center’ to promote Korean films invited to the festival and supported active networking for the filmmakers from all over the world. The K-Movie Center, which was established and operated at the National Pavilion in Marché du Film (Cannes Film Market) from May 17 to 25, consisted of a gallery zone for the invited films, a trailer video zone, and an interview & meeting zone, attracting more than 800 Korean and foreign filmmakers. Especially, KOFIC prepared ‘Dalgona’ for the guests and the photo exhibition to promote Korean actors overseas, drawing the attention of the foreigners in the venue. In addition, Director Park Chanwook, Actors Park Haeil and Tang Wei of Decision to Leave, Director Lee Jungjae and Actor Jung Woosung of HUNT, Director Jung July of Next Sohee, and Actor Oh Kwangrok of Return to Seoul, etc. visited the K-Movie Center for press conferences and interviews. In addition to the K-Movie Center, KOFIC also actively tried to introduce Korean films overseas, including co-hosting the Korea-France Round Table with the National Center for Film and Moving Images (CNC) and hosting K-Movie Night. 


We can say the winning of the Palme d’Or award for Director Bong Joonho’s PARASITE in 2019 signaled the syndrome of ‘K-Movie.’ 3 years later in 2022, Korean Director Park Chanwook won the Best Director at Cannes, and this achievement means Korean films are playing the role of the main character in the global film industry after the COVID-19 Pandemic. We also should pay attention to the fact that both Korean films that won awards at Cannes this year served as ‘the centerpiece of Asian cineastes.’ Director Park Chanwook’s Decision to Leave is a Korean film in which Chinese star Tang Wei and Korean actor Park Haeil acted in the Korean language mostly, while Broker is a Korean film in which Korean actors played their characters following the script written by Director Kore-eda Hirokazu, a Japanese director. In addition, Davy Chou, a Cambodian-French director filmed the story of a Korean overseas adoptee in Return to Seoul, which was invited to the Un Certain Regard and well-received at Cannes.  A foreign film official said, “Hollywood and Korea are the only ones that can accomplish global joint projects of this size,” and it isn’t an exaggeration at all. The amazing performance of K-Movie this year at Cannes is expected to further heighten the status of K-Movie as the hub of Asia and the center of the global film industry in the future.