Korean short wins top honour at Berlin film festival

Korean short wins top honour at Berlin film festival
Na Young-kil shows off the Golden Bear award for best short film during a press conference after the award ceremony at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival in Berlin, Saturday.

The graduation film of a Korean university student won a top honour at the Berlin International Film Festival on Saturday.

Na Young-kil, 32, won the Golden Bear for best short film at the German film festival for "Hosanna," his graduation project at the Korea National University of Arts.

The 24-minute-long horror-fantasy film centres on a boy living in a remote village who has the power to heal the sick and raise the dead. The villagers get a new lease on life through the boy's help, yet find themselves mired in their same old miseries. Though they curse and antagonize the boy, he continues to cure them of their illnesses.

The 2014 film received the special jury award from Jeonju International Film Festival last year.

"Through the boy, I wanted to ask questions about the meaning of life, death and resurrection," the director said.

The last time a Korean film won the Golden Bear for Best Short Film was in 2011 for "Night Fishing," directed by Park Chan-wook and his brother Park Chan-kyong. In the same year, director Yang Hyo-joo received the second prize, a Silver Bear in the same category, for "Broken Night."

A total of eight Korean films, including "Hosanna," were shown at the film festival, which is one of the most prestigious in the world, alongside those of Cannes, Venice and Toronto. The Korean box-office hit "Ode to My Father" by Yoon Je-kyoon, Busan International Film Festival-winning "End of Winter" by Kim Dae-hwan, and director Im Kwon-taek's 102nd film, "Revivre," were screened in noncompeting sections.

"Snowpiercer" director Bong Joon-ho was part of the seven-person jury for the competing sections, becoming the second Korean to serve as a jury member after actress Lee Young-ae in 2006.

Iranian dissident filmmaker Jafar Panahi's "Taxi" won the Golden Bear for best film at Saturday's film festival.

The movie, in which the director stars as a taxi driver talking to passengers as he navigates the streets of Tehran, is a condemnation of censorship.

Panahi has been unable to leave Iran after he was convicted of making antistate propaganda. Authorities imposed a 20-year filmmaking ban on Panahi in 2010, but he has continued to make movies.

The grand jury prize, which comes with a runner-up Silver Bear, went Saturday to Chilean director Pablo Larrain for his movie "The Club."

The best actor and best actress awards went to Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling, who play a couple in British director Andrew Haigh's drama "45 Years."

The jury awarded two best director honors: to Romania's Radu Jude for "Aferim!" and to Malgorzata Szumowska of Poland for "Body."

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