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Korean Director Wins Top Prize at Off Plus Camera Fest

Park Jung-Bum clinches $100,000 prize for "The Journals of Musan" at the film festival, held in Krakow, Poland.

Korean director Park Jung-Bum clinched the top prize in the international competition at the fourth Off Plus Camera International Festival of Independent Cinema (April 8-17) in Krakow, Poland.

The competition is called "Making Way" and its prizes are awarded for debuts and sophomore efforts. Park received $100,000 for The Journals of Musan (Musa il-gy), his drama about the tribulations of a North Korean defector. He is eligible for an additional $365,300 (1,000,000 PLN) from the Polish Film Institute if he shoots his next feature in Poland.

Looking like a rabbit in the headlights after jury president Jerzy Skolimowski handed him the award, Park said, “I can’t believe I got such an important award. This film is especially important to me, since it was made in memory of my deceased friend.”

Polish director Jan Komasa’s Suicide Room (Sala samobojcow), snubbed out of a competition slot at Berlinale but ending up in that festival’s Panorama section, won Off Plus Camera's first-ever FIPRESCI prize, which was $10,000. Film historian and FIPRESCI jury head Ronald Bergan called it the “most ambitious and original film” in the selection and was pleased that the award included money instead of just “prestige” on this occasion.

The festival’s first-ever Polish Feature Film Award, with a jury headed by Rose McGowan, went to the drama The Christening (Chrzest), which premiered in San Sebastian and had previously picked up multiple nods at Polish Film Festival in Gdynia. Director Marcin Wrona picked up a $36,530 (100,000 PLN) prize, along with an all-expense paid trip to the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

Off Plus Camera's guests included casting director Ellen Chenoweth, actors Tim Roth and Richard Jenkins and director Roger Christian.

Roth was feted with the Against the Current achievement award and Christian plans to return to the Krakow area to film an adaptation of Polish author Stanislaw Lem's novel Memoirs Found in a Bathtub. The 3-million-euro production will feature an Anglo cast and will be filmed in early 2012 in the Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow.