Poetry, which won Best Screenplay at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, has received the spotlight for the second consecutive year at international film festivals, winning four more awards in March alone. More recently on April 5, the heroine of the movie, Yun Jung-hee was awarded a French cultural order in recognition of her lifelong contribution to the film.
Korean films continue to shine abroad
The lasting tide of the Korean Wave, culminated by Poetry, continues to reach the broad global culture scene across Asia and Europe.
Novelist-turned-film-director Lee Chang-dong’s fifth work, Poetry, was named best picture, winning the top prize Le Regard d’or (Golden Gaze) on the last day of the 25th Fribourg International Film Festival that took place from March 19 to 26. In 2008, the festival had already honored the legendary Korean director with a tribute.
Winner of the award for Best Screenplay, Poetry director Lee Chang-dong (right) poses with actress Yun Jung-hee (left) during a photo opportunity after the awards ceremony on May 23 at the 63rd International Film Festival in Cannes (Photo: Yonhap News, AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Poetry, which competed with 11 feature films that reflect a diversity of genres and subject matters, also won the prestigious FIRPRESCI Award (Prix de la FIPRESCI) from the International Federation of Film Critics. As a result, Poetry received a total of 17 domestic and international film awards, which is rare for a single movie.
At the Fribourg Festival, another Korean director Kim Tae-yong’s Late Autumn, starring Korean actor Hyun Bin and Chinese actress Tang Wei, picked up the Ex-Change award, a prize accredited by a special youth jury. The movie also won the Special Mention of the Jury of the International Federation of Film Societies.
Poetry (left) directed by Lee Chang-dong and Late Autumn (right) directed by Kim Tae-yong (Photo courtesy of FineHouse Film and the Korean Film Council)
Meanwhile, Poetry shone at the 5th Asian Film Awards ceremony held on March 21, in conjunction with Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF). It added two more awards to its “awardography” with the Best Director and Best Screenplay Awards.
Also worth noting, Korean actor Ha Jung-woo won the Best Actor for his starring role in The Yellow Sea while Yoon Yeo-jeong claimed the trophy of Best Supporting Actress in The Housemaid at the Asian Film Awards.
Heroine of "Poetry" Yun Jung-hee received the prestigious French cultural order “Officier”
On April 5, the French Government bestowed the honor of "Officier dans l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters)" on Yun Jung-hee in recognition of her significant contributions in the field of film. The award confirms the ardent response from audiences to her impassioned performance in Poetry, which was released in France last August.
Stills from Poetry (Photo courtesy of FineHouse Film)
Originally, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication was set to grant her Chevalier dans l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters). The French Culture Ministry said that the French Culture and Communications Minister Frédéric Mitterrand acknowledged her lifelong career in the realm of cinema expressing his great respect through the decision to award her the higher order of Officier.
It is significant that Yun and her husband, the renowned pianist Paik Kun-woo, have become the first Korean couple to be so honored by the French Government. Paik was named Chevalier dans l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2001.
At the ceremony, Yun expressed gratitude saying that she was delighted with the recognition of French audiences. She added that she would continue to devote her energies to film.
Yun Jung-hee (right) poses with her pianist husband and awardee of Chevalier dans l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Paik Kun-woo (left), and the French Culture and Communications Minister Frédéric Mitterrand after she received the French cultural order on Tuesday (Photo: Yonhap News)
Yun Jung-hee is widely known to Korean audiences, having taken leading roles from the very beginning of her acting career in 1966. The veteran Korean actress has since starred in over 300 films and is considered a member of the undisputed troika of Korean cinema of the ’60s.
Yun received dozens of awards for Best Actress both at home and overseas and has served on the jury at a number of international film festivals, including the Deauville Asian Film Festival and the World Film Festival in Montreal. Returning to the screen with Poetry after a 16 year-hiatus, she won the Best Actress at last year’s Grand Bell Awards, one of the most prestigious film awards in Korea.