The Korean Film Council (KOFIC) has announced Kim Ki-duk’s recent Venice Golden Lion winner Pieta as South Korea’s submission for the Academy Awards’ best foreign language film category.

The film is about a loan shark’s brutal enforcer whose grim life is turned on its side by a woman who shows up claiming to be his mother. 

Other candidates for the submission were Im Sang-soo’s Cannes competition film The Taste Of Money, Hong Sang-soo’s Cannes competitor In Another Country, Yoon Jong-bin’s ‘80s crime thriller Nameless Gangster: Rules Of The Time, and Choo Chang-min’s costume drama Masquerade, starring Lee Byung-hun.

KOFIC assembled a selection committee of film experts to choose a submission based on the individual films’ qualities, US distribution capabilities, and how well the directors and films are known.

The committee announced it was a unanimous decision to submit Pieta, noting its sharp grasp of the times and its “aesthetic audaciousness” among other qualities.

South Korea’s previous submissions to the Academy Awards include Jang Hun’s The Front Line (2011), Kim Tae-kyun’s A Barefoot Dream (2010) and Bong Joon-ho’s Mother (2009). None made it into the final round of nominations.

Since winning Venice’s top prize, Pieta has enjoyed a rash of publicity and a jump at the local box office. The film has taken $1.08m (KW1.2bn) to date since its Sept 6 release. This is a relatively strong number for arthouse maverick Kim Ki-duk, who has had a contentious relationship with local distributors and audiences.