Controversy clouds Kim’s victory at Venice

Controversy clouds Kim’s victory at Venice

VENICE - Agence France-Presse
Controversy clouds Kim’s victory at Venice

South Korean Kim Ki-duk has taken the Venice film festival’s Golden Lion award with his morality tale ‘Pieta,’ which is a bleak story about a brutal loan shark in Seoul.

The Venice film festival wrapped up in controversy on Sept. 9 after Kim Ki-duk took the Golden Lion with his Korean morality tale “Pieta,” amid reports the jury had wanted a different winner.

The Hollywood Reporter said the jury had been prevented from choosing US director Paul Thomas Anderson for the Scientology-inspired “The Master” because the film was already picking up the best director and best actor awards. Festival rules state that no one film can win more than two awards and the reports said the jury was therefore forced to consult again and settled on Kim’s “Pieta”, a gut-wrenching condemnation of money-grabbing capitalism.

The first Korean to win the festival
In an unusual career with no film training, Kim said he was elated after becoming the first Korean to win the festival. “I am not trying to earn money with my films. I shot ‘Pieta’ with the equivalent of $100,000,” said the pony-tailed Kim, who is known for shooting quickly and on low budgets with “Pieta” being his 18th film. “We Koreans sing it when we feel lonely or abandoned but also when we are happy. It symbolizes the many hills we have to cross from sadness to joy the meanders of life,” said Kim.

The South Korean’s film is a bleak story about a brutal loan shark who preys on the clapped-out workshops of a district of Seoul that is quickly being redeveloped, until a woman claiming to be his mother suddenly appears in his life.

Italian newspapers meanwhile homed in on a major gaffe at the ceremony in which organizers at first confused the winners of the best director and special jury prizes, leading to an embarrassing handover of prizes on stage. The reports also commented on the fact that few stars were present, with Philip Seymour Hoffman having to pick up the best director award for Anderson and the best actor prize he jointly won with Joaquin Phoenix for “The Master.”

There was also some of the usual soul-searching in the Italian press about why yet again no Italian film managed to win any major award even though at the festival three out of the 18 in competition were Italian.