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A Taxi Driver will represent South Korea as its candidate for the 2018 Oscars’ best foreign-language film category, its local distributor Showbox said Monday.
The historical drama sped through the local box office last month to become the year’s biggest draw, hauling in $83.4 million as of Monday, according to the Korean Film Council’s KOBIS database. South Korean industry observers primarily measure a film’s market performance in terms of admissions, and the film became the 17th in local box-office history to cross 10 million admissions — a milestone figure in light of South Korea’s population of 50 million.
The film, which closed the 21st Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal this summer, is inspired by true events of the 1980 Gwangju Uprising. A German reporter (Thomas Kretschmann, Stalingrad, Avengers: Age of Ultron) receives the help of a local cab driver (Song Kang-ho, Snowpiercer), to cover a massive, state-sanctioned massacre against civilians during South Korea’s democratization movement.
The incident remains a sensitive issue in modern Korean history, but film critics have noted that A Taxi Driver was able to resonate widely with viewers as it refrains from making any direct political commentary. Director Jang Hoon previously directed the Korean War actioner The Front Line.
“Based on a true story, A Taxi Driver ably expresses an inherent Koreanness as well as the progress of human rights and democracy in Asia,” the Korean Film Council said in a statement. The state organization for promoting Korean films chooses the country’s Oscar contender each year. “Moreover, we believed that the film’s messages on universal human values could be easily delivered to international viewers. The film also boasts high cinematic values, and jury members unanimously agreed to choose it,” said the statement.
While Korean films have gained prominence and international recognition in the past few decades, South Korea has yet to receive a foreign-language Oscar nomination.
Meanwhile, this marks the third consecutive year that a film starring Song Kang-ho in the lead role has been chosen as the Asian country’s foreign-language Oscar contender, following last year’s The Age of Shadows and 2015’s The Throne.
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