Monday, May 25, 2009

"Thirst" Gets Jury Prize in Cannes

South Korean director Park Chan-wook won the jury prize at the Cannes film festival Sunday for his thriller "Thirst" ("Bakjwi") about a priest-turned vampire struggling with his desire for blood and sex.

Park shared the prize with British director Andrea Arnold, who was honored for "Fish Tank" depicting the troubled life of a teenage girl in a London suburb.

The festival's top prize went to Austrian director Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon," a tragic tale of a small German town on the eve of World War I.

This marks the first time that a South Korean film has claimed the honor in Cannes. The jurors praised the blood-soaked vampire film as a "unique noir film."

Park won the festival's Grand Jury Prize in 2004 with his film "Oldboy."

"The joy of creating is my energy in making films. Filmmaking is a joy from the beginning to the end," Park told the audience at the awards ceremony. "I'd like to share this honor with actor Song Gang-ho, a great friend and colleague."

The award is the eighth time a local film has received one of the main awards at the Cannes International Film Festival.

South Korean director Lim Known-taek received the director's award for "Stroke of Fire" in 2002 and actress Jeon Do-yeon took the best actress prize in 2007 for "Secret Sunshine."

"Thirst" competed for top honors at this year's Cannes with 19 other world-renowned directors, including Quentin Tarantino, Pedro Almodovar, Xavier Giannoli and Ang Lee.

Park, who had also won the Alfred Bauer Prize for his science fiction comedy "I'm a Cyborg, But That's Ok" at the Berlin film festival, says it took a decade of preparation to bring the vampire story, a genre rarely explored by South Korean directors, to local screens.


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