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Chihwasun Makes Successful U.S. Debut

Posted September. 30, 2002 22:59,   


Director Im Gwon-taek, who won the renowned Khan award with his latest work “Chihwasun,” received a big applause from the audience attending the New York Film Festival, a 15-day high-profile event that opened on September 27.

Hundreds of people attended the movie’s premiere held in Allice Tooley Auditorium in Lincoln Center in New York at 6 p.m. on Saturday, and were mesmerized by the world of Korean art presented by the movie’s hero and Korean painter Jang Seung-up (played by Choi Min-shik). Having returned back to the present time from the journey to the 19th century Korea, the audience gave a standing ovation when Im took the stage.

“Chinwasun will be open nationwide in February next year and we are confident that the movie will draw a significant number of people,” said Donald Cream, president of Kino International, a distribution company specializing in arts movies. Earlier, French film distributor Pate also signed an import deal to release the Korean movie in some 100 major cities in France beginning November 27.

During the “discussion with the audience,” the aged director was asked many questions about the painter Jang Seung-up. When asked, “Why did you decide to make a movie about him?” Im answered that he wanted “to draw a moving-image picture with the passionate painter who pursued something bigger than his life.”

The audience broke into laugh when Im said “He and I are much alike in that we both like alcohol and women. So, it was relatively easy for me to make a movie about the painter.”

At a reception held on the 27th, film magazine editors, critics and professors teaching filmmaking went over to Im to have a few words. During conversations, many of them used such words as “wonderful” and “perfect.”

New York Film Festival, an event that significantly affects a box office performance of a movie in the North American region, hosts no competition unlike Kahn. Instead, it invites only 25 movies among some 300 critically credited movies worldwide.

Another Korean movie “Discovery in Life” (directed by Hong Sang-soo) was also invited to the film festival for this year. Other Asian movies invited the festival are two Chinese and one Iranian movies.

The fact that there are two Korean works of the total five Asian films reflects the growing stance of Korean films in the global stage. Before this year, “A Traveler Never Takes a Rest on the Roadside” (directed by Lee Jang-ho) and “Chunhyang Story” (directed by Im Gwon-taek) were the only Korean movies introduced by the film festival.

In particular, six jurors decided to present “Chihwasun” on the spot right after watching the movie. The New York Times, which gave a cold shoulder to the movie during Kahn Film Festival, praised it as “scenic and ideal images surrounded by the nature that reflects director Im’s atheistic insight.”

“It is time for Korean moviemakers to redouble their effort to crack the American market,” said Im during an interview with Donga Ilbo held before the premiere. He is set to attend two more film festivals in Los Angels and Chicago through the end of this month.

“We are now having a golden age that equals to the 1960’s boom, with cash and young talented people flowing into the movie industry,” said Im. “Luckily, those driven by money instead of passion are now vowing out of the stage.”