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Park Chan-wook wins best director, Song Kang-ho, best actor at Cannes

South Korean director Park Chan-wook of “Decision to Leave” poses for photos after winning the best director award at the 75th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on Saturday. (Reuters-Yonhap)
South Korean director Park Chan-wook of “Decision to Leave” poses for photos after winning the best director award at the 75th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on Saturday. (Reuters-Yonhap)
One of the world’s most prestigious film festivals has once again acknowledged the power of South Korean cinema.

South Korea took home two major titles -- Park Chan-wook won best director for “Decision to Leave” and Song Kang-ho won best actor for “Broker” – at the 75th Cannes Film Festival that ended Saturday.

Park’s thriller-romance film, “Decision to Leave,” about a detective who comes across a widow who is a prime suspect in his murder investigation, stars Korean actor Park Hae-il and Chinese actor Tang Wei.

In accepting his award, Park expressed gratitude to fans for going to theaters and looked forward to a bright future for cinema.

“With the dreadful pandemic, there were times when we struggled due to the theaters closing down, but at the same time, we all realized how precious the existence of theaters had been to us. I am confident that we will keep safeguarding the cinemas in difficult times, like we have been through the pandemic,” Park said in Korean.

This marks Park’s third win at Cannes. He won the Grand Prix in 2003 for the thriller “Oldboy” and the Jury Prize in 2009 for the horror film “Thirst.” Although “The Handmaiden” failed to win at Cannes in 2016, it went on to win the best film not in the English language at the British Academy Film Awards in 2018. 

Actor Song Kang-ho of “Broker” poses for photos after winning the best actor award at the 75th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on Saturday. (Reuters-Yonhap)
Actor Song Kang-ho of “Broker” poses for photos after winning the best actor award at the 75th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on Saturday. (Reuters-Yonhap)
No stranger to Cannes -- this was his seventh visit -- Song won his first-ever Cannes prize for playing an illegal baby broker in Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s heartwarming tale about a Korean family seeking home for an abandoned baby found in a “baby box.”

The film is Kore-eda’s first all-Korean cast, all Korean-language film and also stars Gang Dong-won, Lee Ji-eun, also known as singer IU, and Bae Doo-na who starred in Kore-eda’s 2009 film, “Air Doll.”

Meeting with reporters later, Park explained how his film differs from others in similar genres and with similar plots.

“The first part ends and the second part unfolds in a new direction,” Park said. The woman who was pictured as a mysterious femme-fatale is no longer a subject of male gaze, but telling her own story, moves to the center of the story, Park explained.

Song paid tribute to Kore-eda for his understanding of Korean culture, which made Song and other Korean actors comfortable throughout the shoot.

“I have seen almost all of Kore-eda’s films so far. Not just myself, but many Korean fans love his films for the distinctive aesthetics of Japanese movies,” Song told reporters.

Director Park Chan-wook (left) and actor Song Kang-ho pose together at a press conference after receiving the best director and best actor awards, respectively, at the 75th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on Saturday. (Yonhap)
Director Park Chan-wook (left) and actor Song Kang-ho pose together at a press conference after receiving the best director and best actor awards, respectively, at the 75th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on Saturday. (Yonhap)
The nine-member jury led by French actor Vincent Lindon gave the Palme d’Or to Swedish director Ruben Ostlund’s class warfare comedy “Triangle of Sadness.” This is the director’s second win of the top honor prize after “The Square” in 2017.

Actor Zar Amir Ebrahimi was named best actress for her role as a journalist in Ali Abbasi’s “Holy Spider.”

The jury prize went to “Le Otto Montagne” directed by Charlotte Vandermeersch and Felix van Groeningen, and “Eo” by Jerzy Skolimowski.

By Kim Hae-yeon (hykim@heraldcorp.com)
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