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Korean films make mark

“Nobody’s Daughter Haewon,” directed by Hong Sang-soo, made its world premiere as it competed at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival.

The film is a chronicle of the life and struggles of a college student, Haewon, after her mother leaves for Canada and the off-again-on-again affair she ensues with her married professor.

Hong’s film received mixed reviews. Some praised him for his simplistic vision, while others criticized his casual-like approach in terms of his scripting and camerawork.

“Widely admired for being a deceptively simple auteur, Hong Sang-soo achieves something genuinely simple for a change with ‘Nobody’s Daughter Haewon,’ and not in an unpleasant way,” wrote Maggie Lee in a review for Variety Magazine.

But others found it rather distracting and comical.

“This farcical treatment of a pretty girl’s clandestine affair with her married teacher and slide into alcoholism is poised somewhere between mild comedy and dream, and recaps Hong’s preferred themes,” wrote Hollywood Reporter film reviewer Deborah Young. “Hong doesn’t always succeed in making improvisation a virtue. Tech work looks very casual, with plain camerawork featuring Hong’s usual penchant for ugly zooming.”

Three other Korean pictures were invited to Berlin to premiere at the Berlinale’s Panorama section, which features works that include “controversial subjects or unconventional aesthetic styles.” The three local flicks were E J-yong’s “Behind the Camera”; Leesong Hee-il’s “White Night”; and Lee Don-ku’s raw and sadistic crime narrative film “Fatal,” which received rave reviews at last year’s Busan International Film Festival.

Lee’s debut film “Fatal” received even more positive reviews after its premiere in Berlin. Lee was praised for his use of raw and at times graphically violent images, which some said added to the film’s aesthetics and edge.

“Daring and original, ‘Fatal’ is an explosive debut that has put the young cineaste Lee Dong-ku on the map,” said Twitch Films reviewer Pierce Conran.

By Julie Jackson  (