Cannes Goes Sans South Korean Cinema for 2013 Lineup

Anticipated works by Korean festival favorites Bong Joon-ho and Kim Ki-duk weren't ready in time to be considered for competition, but sidebar announcements still remain to be made.

SEOUL — South Korean has had a strong presence at the Cannes Film Festival in recent years, with two local films, Hong Sang-soo’s In Another Country and Im Sang-soo’s Taste of Money vying for the Palme d’Or in 2012. But this year few Korean cineastes will be making their way to la Croisette, as much anticipated projects by Bong Joon-ho and Kim Ki-duk were not ready in time for the May event.

Moon Byounggon’s Safe will compete in the short film competition while Kim Soo-jin’s Seon will be shown in the Cinefondation section for students.

While this absence of Korean cinema was anticipated in the industry, local media still had to explain to the Korean public the reasons why, with headlines along the lines of “No Bong Joon-ho or Kim Ki-duk at Cannes -- Why?” (Maeil Business Newspaper) and “Korean Cinema Fails to Compete at Cannes This Year” (Yonhap News Agency).

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Bong, much favored by Cannes critics for Mother, among others, was expected to premiere his English-language debut Snowpiercer, especially since the sci-fi story is based on a French graphic novel. However, even before the lineup was announced Thursday it was widely reported that he needed more time for the post-production of the ambitious $39.3 million project starring Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Ed Harris, and John Hurt, among others.

There will be no market screening for footage from the film either, which is slated for a summer release, according to its producer CJ Entertainment. The film already stacked up a series of sales for North American, European, and Asian regions during the European Film Market in February and the American Film Market last fall.

Arthouse maverick Kim, meanwhile, is reported to have wrapped up shooting his latest film. Cannes was deemed timely for unveiling the follow-up to his Venice Golden Bear-winning Pieta -- the piece marked a high point in his career following Arirang, which picked up the top prize at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard Section in 2011, despite the controversy it generated.

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While known for his prolific, speedy productions -- his latest project starring Seo Young-joo (named Best Actor at the 25th Tokyo International Film Festival for Juvenile Offender) was shot in just two weeks -- sources say Kim felt his upcoming film was not yet ready for Cannes.

Onlookers, however, are looking forward to the possibility of seeing some Korean titles in the Critics’ Week or Directors’ Fortnight.