The Korean Film Council (KOFIC) is awarding master director Im Kwon-taek $319,200 (KW400m) in cash and up to $159,600 (KW200m) in services for his 101st film Sanghwaji (working title).

Im’s film is the first to be awarded by KOFIC’s newly instated Masters’ Films Production Support Program which aims to elevate the international brand image of Korea’s most representative directors and invigorate the production of high-quality art films.

Directors who have previously been invited to international film festivals – and preferably awarded – can apply to the programme with live-action feature projects of budgets up to $1,596,400 (KW2bn). In addition to the production support, if after completion they are invited to overseas festivals, the filmmakers will be awarded additional funds to participate, cover some publicity costs and have subtitles translated.

Im, who has often focused on traditional Korean arts such as painting in the Cannes-awarded Chiwaseon and pansori singing in the Venice entry Beyond The Years, told Screendaily: “My new film deals with the artistry of hanji - traditional Korean paper. It’s fallen into disregard and so in my film, a civil servant goes about trying to reinvigorate interest and prove the excellence and worth of hanji.”

The organising committee of the Jeonju International Film Festival (JIFF) is producing the film. Famous for its traditional arts and crafts, the city is also renowned for its hanji.

“But we’re not just going to shoot in Jeonju. I’ve been scouting locations across the country, and plan to shoot in several places including Wonju, starting in late autumn,” added Im.