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Int'l film festival in Jeonju closes with award winners

An annual international film festival in southern South Korea wrapped its nine-day run Friday after the announcement of additional award winners.

The 12th Jeonju International Film Festival closed in this city about 240 kilometers south of Seoul with the screening of the South Korean film "Anyang, Paradise City." It won the grand prize in the Korean feature films competition.

Directed by Park Chan-kyong, the film portrays the past and present of Anyang, a city about 23km south of Seoul, by integrating elements of documentary and feature film, organizers said. It covers events such as fires, floods and temple site excavation, organizers added.

The grand prize for Korean features, the JJ-Star Award, comes with 10 million won ($9,250). Last year, the JIFF closed with the winner of the international competition, but organizers said they went with a South Korean winner to better promote and support local films.

"Jean Gentil" by Israel Cardenas and Laura Amelia Guzman took the top international prize and earned $10,000, along $5,000 in support funds. "Double Clutch" by Ahn Guk-jin won the South Korean short film competition.

Park is a younger brother of director Park Chan-wook, an award-winning director who captured the grand prix honors at Cannes in 2004 with "Oldboy." The brothers shared the Golden Bear Award for Best Short Film at this year's Berlin International Film Festival, as co-directors of "Night Fishing."

The three judges for this prize -- Stanley Kwak, Michelle Carey and Julian Stringer -- said in a statement that their decision was a difficult one and that "Anyang, Paradise City" was chosen for "its strong, confident visual style and the journey it takes the viewer on."

"The film provides healing for the pain the city has gone through," they added.

This year's festival ran under the theme of "Freedom, Independence and Communication." It featured 190 films from 38 nations, and recorded a seat occupancy rate of 86 percent, up from about 83 percent last year.

"Thanks to interest and participation of many movie fans, we've successfully hosted this year's festival," said Song Ha-jin, mayor of Jeonju who doubled as the chairman of the festival, said in his closing remarks. "We will present even better programs and develop this into a world-class film festival." (Yonhap News)

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