Acclaimed Korean director Kim Ki-Duk’s new film, “Pieta” will never match the 130-million plus views racked up by PSY’s “Gangnam Style.” But for those who favor haute culture over pop, its receipt of the Venice Film Festival’s top prize last week is just as impressive an accomplishment. Either way, Korean artists are enjoying a unique moment in the global spotlight.
The 69th Venice Film Festival concluded the previous Saturday as a jury chaired by Michael Mann, the visionary behind “Miami Vice” and “Heat,” awarded the Golden Lion for best film to “Pieta” over Paul Thomas Anderson’s Scientology exposé “The Master.” The honor is the first for a Korean director as Kim joins a venerable list of iconoclasts whose films have won the award; including Sofia Coppola, Darren Aronofsky, Ang Lee, Beat Takeshi, Mira Nair, Mike Leigh, and Robert Altman. Kim’s past triumphs include the contemplative “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring” and his searing debut “Crocodile.”
“Pieta” concerns a violent debt collector visited by a strange woman claiming to be his mother and their ensuing relationship. The film just recently opened in South Korea and is awaiting a U.S. release date. Korean cinema first came to mainstream Western attention with Chan- wook Park’s “Oldboy” in 2003. Perhaps the budding success of “Pieta” will embolden a new generation of Korean and Korean-American filmmakers.
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