Competition-Shy Director Braves Competition at Cannes

      May 25, 2007 09:39

      Director Lee Chang-dong's new movie "Secret Sunshine" was screened in competition at the Cannes International Film Festival on Thursday. Lee has been to Cannes before, when his work "Peppermint Candy" was picked for the festival's Director's Fortnight screenings.

      But it was the first time he has been invited to the official competition. In a press conference, Lee said he felt honored to have a work invited and was trying not to care about the decision of the jury. "I don't like competition, so I tried to avoid competitive occasions even when I was at school."

      "Secret Sunshine" also opened in Korea on Thursday. The movie depicts the pain of the heroine, played by Jeon Do-yeon, who feels betrayed by both life and religion.

      Actors Song Kang-ho and Jeon Do-yeon and director Lee Chang-dong (from left) pose for pictures before the screening of Lee's "Secret Sunshine" in competition at the Cannes International Film Festival. /Reuters-Yonhap

      Answering questions from reporters, Lee said the movie is about human beings, not about religion. "I wanted to pose question about the meaning of pain in our life. And I wanted to depict the process to heal the pain." When a Danish reporter asked what it means that two Korean films are screened in competition this year, the director answered, "Essentially, the creative spirit of filmmakers is important in producing movies, not their nationality." But he predicted it would encourage Korean filmmakers.

      Questions about the movie's stars were as warm as sunshine. Stéphane Boudsocq from French radio channel Radio RTL showered female lead Jeon Do-yeon with compliments, saying her acting was the most impressive in all the movies he watched in the competition. Jeon said her 10th film gave her new energy, and that was her biggest achievement. Song Kang-ho, who stars opposite her, also praised Jeon's acting.

      Eighteen of the 22 films competing at Cannes have now been screened. Promising contenders include the Coen brothers' "No Country For Old Men," Cristian Mungiu's "Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days" and Julian Schnabel's "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," with high ratings by film magazines like Screen and Le Film Français. The winner of the grand prix Palme d'Or will be announced on Sunday, when the festival ends.

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