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Korean documentary wins top prize at IDFA 2011

The official poster of director Yi Seung-jun’s documentary “Planet of Snails.” (Yonhap News)
The official poster of director Yi Seung-jun’s documentary “Planet of Snails.” (Yonhap News)
Korean documentary “Planet of Snail” won the top prize at the world’s largest documentary film festival in the Netherlands on Saturday, becoming the first Asian film to win the award.

An everyday portrayal of a hearing and visually impaired man and his partner by director Yi Seung-jun, the film won the Best Feature-Length Documentary prize at this year’s International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. Yi received a $16,600 cash prize.

The film previously won the UNICEF Special award at last year’s EBS International Documentary Film Festival, as well as a Sundance Documentary Film Grant.

Prior to Yi’s top-prize honor, two Korean films had previously been featured at IDFA. Last year, director Lee Seong-gyou’s film “My Barefoot Friend,” which told the story of a rickshaw driver in Calcutta, India, was nominated for the top prize. In 2009, director Park Bong-nam won the Best Mid-Length Documentary prize for his film “Iron Crows,” an expose of the world’s largest ship demolition yard in Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, “Planet of Snail” will be soon converted into a “barrier-free” version, the movie’s production house Creative East said. Accompanied by a descriptive audio feature and subtitles that narrate each and every action of the film, the special version will cater for people with hearing or visual impairments.

By Claire Lee (dyc@heraldcorp.com)

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