South Korean actress wins at Berlin film fest

Kim Min-hee has become the first South Korea actress to win the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Kim won the award for her role in the upcoming movie On The Beach At Night Alone which is directed by Hong Sang-soo.

“Today, I was presented with a joy that shines like the bright stars… For some, I believe that this movie can bring emotions deep within their hearts,” she said. In the movie, Kim plays Yeong-hee, an actress who is having an affair with a married movie director.

The news of her win shed light upon her controversial relationship with Hong, in that On The Beach At Night Alone appears to mirror the rumoured extramarital relationship between the 57-year-old director and 34-year-old actress.

In addition, the character of the director in the movie bears a striking resemblance to Hong in terms of his improvised directing style and appearance. The two have neither denied nor confirmed the rumours, although Hong said that the movie was not a personal tale of the two.

“All directors reflect their stories in their work, but (On The Beach At Night Alone) is not an autobiography,” Hong told reporters.

But the sight of two holding hands at the ceremony and Kim saying she respects and loves Hong in her acceptance speech further fuelled suspicions about their affair. He filed for divorce from his wife in November last year.

Kim’s win is a testament to her successful transition from a model and actor to one of most talented and acclaimed actresses in the country. Her 2012 appearance in the psychological thriller film Helpless by Byun Young-joo drastically changed the public’s perception of her acting skills. Her performance in last year’s Handmaiden also boosted her profile in a positive way.

Her win in such a prestigious European film festival is likely to cement her reputation as a top actress. After Jeon Do-yeon won the best actress award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007, she earned the nickname The Queen Of Cannes.

It remains to be seen whether Kim will enjoy the downpour of offers Jeon did, as the public sentiment toward the couple remains icy.

For Hong, the flick earned him a third trip to the Berlinale after Night & Day in 2008 and Nobody’s Daughter Hae won in 2013. On The Beach At Night Alone is slated to hit theatres in South Korea in March.

The Golden Bear in the Berlin Film Festival went to On Body And Soul by Hungarian writer-director Ildiko Enyedi, a film exploring an offbeat love story about two slaughterhouse workers.

Comedy The Other Side of Hope by filmmaker Aki Kaurismaki, considered a strong contender for the Golden Bear, won a Silver Bear for best director.

The best actor award went to Georg Friedrich in Bright Nights, while the jury award went to Alain Gomis Felicite. The Silver Bear for best screenplay went to Sebastian Lelio and Gonzalo Maza for A Fantastic Woman.

Calin Peter Netzer’s Ana, Mon Amour took the award for outstanding artistic contribution, and Spoor won the Alfred Bauer Prize for work of particular innovation. – The Korea Herald/Asia News Network/Yoon Min-sik