Despite failing to win the top prize at the 71st Cannes Film Festival, Lee Chang-dong’s “Burning” was recognized with the Fipresci International Critics’ Prize for best film in the main competition.
The mystery drama was considered one of the favorites to win the Palme d’Or, along with “Capernaum” by Nadine Labaki, “BlacKkKlansman” by Spike Lee and “Shoplifters” by Hirokazu Kore-eda, which took home the top prize.
However, the Korean auteur’s masterful depiction of the insecurity, anxiety, pent-up anger and frustration ailing Korea’s young people won critical acclaim from critics after its premiere Wednesday to a standing ovation.
From left: Producer Lee Joon-dong, actors Steven Yeun, Jeon Jong-seo, Yoo Ah-in, and director Lee Chang-dong of “Burning” pose for photos at the 71st Cannes Film Festival in France on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
It was deemed a “visually stunning film and an emotionally complex comment on contemporary society” by the Fipresci jury, led by France’s Michel Ciment.
“‘Burning’ is a mystery searching (for) what is real and what is not, what exists and does not, what is visible and is not. I am thankful for it being embraced with warm heart,” Lee said, upon his film becoming the first to receive the prize.
The International Federation of Film Critics, founded in 1930 with members from over 50 countries, is an association of national organizations of professional film critics and film journalists around the world.
“Burning” finished with an average score of 3.8 out of 4 at Screen International’s jury grid, based on star-based ratings by film critics of prominent media outlets around the world on the movies at Cannes. The score was the highest in the history of the system, surpassing the 3.7 for Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdmann.”
Lee’s feature film was the only Korean film in the competition at this year’s Cannes. Loosely based on Haruki Murakami’s short story “Barn Burning,” it stars Yoo Ah-in as a troubled, confused young soul who struggles between his childhood friend-turned-love interest -- played by Jeon Jong-seo -- and a young, wealthy man -- played by Steven Yeun -- whose motives and life are shrouded in mystery.
The film was also praised for its artistic style, with art director Shin Jeom-hee winning the Vulcan Award of the Technical Artist at the festival. The award is an independent award presented by the Superior Technical Commission of Image and Sound, given to films at Cannes with outstanding technical achievements in art, sound and filming.
“Burning” opened in local theaters Thursday.
By Yoon Min-sik