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Cannes’ Best Leading Actress

Posted May. 29, 2007 06:48,   


At the 60th Cannes Film Festival that came to an end on May 28, Jeon Do-yeon participated for the first time and received her first Best Leading Actress prize. She had received many acting awards in Korea and joined in many a red-carpeted festivity, but she said she felt small and insignificant when she ascended to the Cannes stage. At the international event, she felt keenly how limited her world had been. It was also an opportunity to meet several world-renowned movie figures, and she said that she regretted being so unprepared to greet them.

She did, however, prove that Korean movie stars could be appreciated internationally by winning the Best Leading Actress award at the greatest film festival in the world in her first international debut. She lamented that she did not debut sooner, but as fate would have it, she was able to hone her acting skills into maturity before she rose to the peak.

“I didn’t know I would be able to work with director Lee Chang-dong, and I certainly didn’t know I would be invited to such a prestigious film festival, but I feel thankful that I was given this honorable award.”

After the awards ceremony, she confessed at the press conference, “I endlessly chanted to myself over and over again that nothing would happen because there was so much pressure around me about the Best Leading Actress prize.” There is little wonder why she could only say, “It seems like it’s happening to somebody else,” after the official screening on May 24. But when we told her about director Lee who supposedly put it out of his mind but couldn’t stop grinning when the applause didn’t stop for 10 minutes after the screening, she seemed startled and laughed, “Phew, he’s only modest outside. Inside, he’s mercenary.”

In the movie, the character of Jong-chan played by Song Kang-ho was accused of being a mercenary by Shin-ae. After receiving her award from legendary French actor Alain Delon, she mentioned him in her acceptance speech, “Thanks to Song Kang-ho, the character of Shin-ae could be complete.” Song, who predicted her victory, burst into chuckles at her words.

Jeon’s Best Leading Actress award was the second given to an Asian actress since Maggie Cheung. But the movie, “Clean,” that led her to the trophy in 2004, was a French movie, and she acted in French. This meant that Jeon’s award was all the more valuable because it was a Korean film where the Korean language was spoken. On this day, Maggie Cheung was seated at the judges’ table. Jeon expressed her wish to converse with world-renowned film personnel in fluent English and French like Maggie Cheung. When Kang Soo-yeon received the Best Leading Actress at the Venice International Film Festival, despite being Jackie Chan’s leading woman and 2 years older, Cheung was eventually able to top her with 80 movies in her filmography. Right now Jeon has made 10 movies.

Jeon said that when she saw American film director Quentin Tarantino seated in line before her at the official screening and the audience clapping with genuine appreciation, she realized that people wanted to see good films, and that it didn’t matter whether they were Hollywood, French, Korean, or otherwise. So Korean movies, which are experiencing a slump, should try to strive for universal excellence rather than domestic satisfaction.

For Jeon the year 2007 will no doubt be remembered as the greatest year of her life, what with her marriage and this award. But we hope that she will continue to flourish infinitely, and that, as her fellow actor Song said, 2007 will be a “new turning point.”