The Korean Film Council has announced Korea’s submission to the Oscars Best Foreign Language Film category as Bong Joon-ho’s mystery thriller Mother.
The film stars veteran actress Kim Hye-ja as a mother in a rural village desperately trying to prove the innocence of her mentally challenged son (played by Won Bin) when he is accused of murdering a high school girl.
Although not on the same blockbuster level of Bong Joon-ho’s previous film The Host, which took a record-breaking 13 million admissions, Mother clocked up a solid three million admissions on local release after a world premiere in Cannes. It is also set to screen at the upcoming Toronto fest.
Aside from Mother, submissions to KOFIC also included Park Chan-wook’s vampire film Thirst, Yang Ik-june’s domestic violence drama Breathless and Lee Chung-ryoul’s cow documentary Old Partner.
KOFIC’s jury for the final Oscar submission consisted of five members including Duelist director Lee Myung-se, Screen International critic Darcy Paquet, and KOFIC commissioner and Jeonju IFFprogrammer Jung Soo-wan.
The jury stated that they selected the film on the criteria of how appropriate it would be for the Oscars’ foreign film category voters, whose previous choices were deemed “comparatively conservative”, the quality of the film, distribution capabilities in the US, and the profile of the director and film.
“Another important consideration was whether the film visually realised sentiments and characteristics particular to Korea,” stated the jury. Also, taking in the fact that the Korean film would have to compete with more than 60 other foreign films, they stated that the question “Is this a film that is engaging enough for juries who don’t know anything about Korea?” was also a consideration.
KOFIC’s jury was skeptical about whether Thirst would be to the Academy’s taste, thought Old Partner was too local in sentiment, and that although Breathless would be deemed “an appealing film with strong impact”, that its plot was simple and could be considered too violent in certain cultures.