'Mother' to represent Korea for Oscars

Thriller beats out vampire flick and farmer documentary

Mother -- Film Review

SEOUL -- "Mother," the latest feature from Bong Joon-ho, has been selected to represent Korea for the best foreign-language film in the next year's Oscar.

The strength of the story's narrative, its potential for a wide release in the U.S. and the director's reputation were considered as priorities for the final contender, the Korean Film Council said.

Six films were submitted to compete for the Korean finalist including Yu Ha's "Frozen Flower," Park Chan-wook's "Thirst" and Lee Chung-ryul's "Old Partner," and were reviewed by a jury that included director Lee Myung-se ("Nowhere to Hide").

"Mother" was released domestically in May, and garnered more than 3 million admissions, falling below the score of the director's previous films like "The Host," which set the record as the biggest boxoffice hit in Korean film history, with 13 million filmgoers.

The story, set in a rural village, traces the battle of an anxious mother (Kim Hye-ja) out to prove the innocence of her mentally challenged son (Won Bin) who is accused of murdering a high school girl. The film premiered at Cannes in May.

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"One of the most critical considerations (for the selection) was to see whether the film had reflected on sentiment particular in Korea," said in a jury statement. "We also had to consider if the film was compelling enough to appeal to juries who didn't know anything about the country or whether the film's distribution had the ability to be marketed abroad."

In the statement, the juries also added that "Thirst," despite the film's strong plot and solid distribution network, was unfit for Oscar's popular tastes. "Old Partner," a documentary about a farmer and his cow, was considered "too local" in its appeal.

"While 'Mother' had a flaw in its ambiguous construction packaged as a mystery thriller, it was agreed that the story of a mother had a genuine appeal and that the director's previous work "Memories of Murder" was well-regarded in the United States," the release said.

The nominations for foreign-language film will be announced on Feb. 2, with the ceremony set for March 7.
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