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The Festival of Korean Films, the Finale of Film Awards in 2021

Dec 14, 2021
  • Writerby Kim Jihyun
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The Book of Fish & Escape from Mogadishu, Selected as the Most Award-winning Films


To greet the year-end, several film awards in Korea announced their winners. Although the awards ceremony is held both face-to-face and untact due to the Pandemic situation, it is clear that it is a big festival in the sense of looking back on the Korean film industry this year and encouraging and supporting notable films and filmmakers. Let's look at each film award one by one. 


The Book of Fish (2021), Escape from Mogadishu (2021), Three Sisters (2021), THE DAY I DIED: UNCLOSED CASE (2020) 


The 41st Korean Association of Film Critics Awards

On November 10th, the 41st Korean Film Association of Film Critics Awards opened the door of the 2021 Korean film awards. Film critics directly determine the winners of the Critics Awards, and it has a differentiated gaze from other film awards, such as the originality of the form and the spirit of the times of the content.


In the Critics Awards, the historical drama The Book of Fish and the period drama Escape from Mogadishu competed in a neck-and-neck race. The Book of Fish won the Best Film, the Best Actor (Sul Kyunggu), the Best Screenplay (Kim Segyeom), and the FIPRESCI Award, while Escape from Mogadishu received the Best Director (Ryoo Seungwan), the Best Supporting Actor (Heo Joonho), the Best Cinematography (Choi Younghwan), and the Best Music (Bang Junseok).


Three Sisters won the Best Actress (Moon Sori) and the Best Supporting Actress (Kim Sunyoung), proving that it is a high-quality female narrative film. Also, the Best New Director was given to Hong Euijeong of Voice of Silence, and the Best New Actor and the Best New Actress were given to Gong Seungyeon of Aloners and Lee Hongnae of Made on the Rooftop, respectively. In addition, the Lifetime Achievement in Film Award was won by Yoon Ilbong, a living witness in the Korean film industry. Born in 1934, he made his debut with Railway Story in 1947, when he was 13, and appeared in as many as 100 films.


Meanwhile, the Korean Association of Film Critics Awards selected the Top 10 films: THE DAY I DIED: UNCLOSED CASE, Escape from Mogadishu, SAMJIN COMPANY ENGLISH CLASSS, Three Sisters, Voice of Silence, SPACE SWEEPERS, Hostage: Missing Celebrity, INTRODUCTION, The Book of Fish, and The Call. The films directed by female directors or depicting female narratives, which have been prominent phenomena in the Korean film industry over the past few years, have drawn attention. It includes two new female directors (THE DAY I DIED: UNCLOSED CASE, Voice of Silence), and three female narrative films (SAMJIN COMPANY ENGLISH CLASSS, Three Sisters, The Call). In addition, genre diversity such as historical dramas, SF, horror, thriller, and family dramas was more noticeable this year than ever.


SPACE SWEEPERS (2020), Beasts Crawling at Straws (2018) 


The 26th Chunsa Film Art Awards

The 26th Chunsa Film Art Awards were held on November 19. The Awards have been held since the 1990s to commemorate Korean film pioneer Chunsa Na Woonkyu and were scheduled to be held in August, but postponed once due to the resurgence of the COVID-19.


The Best Director, the Grand Prix at the Chunsa Film Art Awards, went to Cho Sunghee, the director of SPACE SWEEPERS. He said, "Preparing for the film, I doubted if it would be made for real" and added, "I am grateful to those who continued to encourage me and allowed this work to be born, the staff who worked hard, and Actors Song Joongki, Kim Taeri, Jin Sunkyu, and Yoo Haijin who made me happy to work with,” paying honor to them.


Jeon Doyeon won the Best Actress, and Song Joongki won the Best Actor. Jeon Doyeon of Beasts Crawling at Straws said, "I thought the public would like the film a lot, but the title seemed to be a bit difficult to them. It was released at the beginning of COVID-19, and I was a bit sad because it didn’t meet many moviegoers. I hope the theater district can be active under the situation of ‘With COVID-19.’ In addition, Song Joongki of SPACE SWEEPERS said, "I was worried about the movie a lot at first, but thanks to the hard work of the staff on the set, I could film it smoothly with the cutting-edge technology."


At Chunsa Art Film Awards 2021, SPACE SWEEPERS won two gold medals, including the Best Director and the Best Actor, while Moving On enjoyed the joy of receiving the Best New Actress (Choi Jungwoon) and the Best New Director (Yoon Danbi). Also, Deliver Us From Evil won two medals, including the Audience's Most Popular Movie Award (Hong Wonchan) and the Best Supporting Actor (Park Jungmin).


Sinkhole (2021), Beyond That Mountain (2019), The Swordsman (2020), Waiting for Rain (2020) 


The 41 Golden Cinema Film Festival

On November 20, the 41st Golden Cinema Film Festival was held. The film award is hosted by the Korean Society of Cinematographers and aims to maintain a continuous sense of technology in Korean films and find new faces in this film award, The Book of Fish was honored with five gold medals, including the Cinematographer Gold Award (Lee Euitae), the Best Director (Lee Joonik), the Best Actor (Sul Kyunggu), the Best Picture (Cineworld Entertainment), and the Best New Actress (Min Dohee). 


In addition, Cha Seungwon of Sinkhole won the Cinematographers’ Choice Popularity Award, in which the directors of photography determine the winner based on the actors’ performances seen through the camera on the filming spot. It proved that Actor Cha Seungwon is loved not only by the audience but also by the staff. The actor said, "It has been honored again in about 20 years since I won the award for Kick the Moon in 2002, and this award is so grateful and precious because it is a popular award selected by the directors of photography."


Meanwhile, Kim Byungjung, the director of photography of Beyond The Mountain, won the Cinematographer Silver Award, and Son Wonho, the director of photography of The Swordsman won the Cinematographer Bronze Award, and Yoo Ilseung, the director of photography of Waiting for Rain won the Best New Cinematographer. The Best Actress went to Chun Woohee of Waiting for Rain, the Best New Actress to Min Dohee of The Book of Fish, the Best New Actor to Park Bogum of Seobok, the Best Supporting Actress to Jang Hyejin of More Than Family, and the Best Supporting Actor to Kim Heewon of Pawn.


The 42nd Blue Dragon Film Awards poster 


The 42nd Blue Dragon Film Awards

The 42nd Blue Dragon Film Awards were held on November 26th at KBS Hall in Yeouido, Seoul. The two notable movies in the Awards were Escape from Mogadishu and The Book of Fish.

First of all, Escape from Mogadishu achieved the highest box office record (3.61 million viewers) this year and won four medals, including the Best Film, the Best Director (Ryoo Seungwan), the Best Supporting Actor (Heo Joonho), and the Best Art Direction (Kim Bomook).


Director Ryoo Seungwan said, "I really thought a lot about releasing the film in the 4th stage of social distancing," adding, "I am grateful to the audience for appreciating the screens and sounds holding the touch of the people who made it, and the audience is my companion." In addition, Kang Hyejung, the CEO of the production company ‘FilmRnK’ said, "We will make better movies you want to spend time and money in the theater to watch our movies."


Meanwhile, the Blue Dragon Film Awards 2021 also paid attention to the beauty of black and white films. The Book of Fish won a total of five awards, including the Best Actor (Sul Kyunggu), the Screenplay (Kim Segyeom), the Best Editing (Kim Jeonghun), the Best Music (Bang Junseok), and the Best Cinematography and Lighting (Lee Euitae, Yoo Hyukjoon).


Actor Sul Kyunggu also gave credit to actor Byun Yohan, who played the lead role together, saying, "I’ve wanted that the other actor should win this award when The Book of Fish could receive an award. I’m thankful and sorry. Many fellow actors helped make this treasure-like movie at their own expense. Like the lines in The Book of Fish, I will become an actor who is like an asset that doesn't mind even if it gets all filthy and muddy water."


Another film that cannot be left out is Three Sisters, a female epic film directed by Lee Seungwon. This work won two medals, including the Best Actress (Moon Sori) and the Best Supporting Actress (Kim Sunyoung). Actor Moon Sori said, "It's a movie holding our hope that our daughters live proudly and comfortably beyond the era of violence and hatred. I think our daughters' future will be brighter because there are wonderful sisters such as the great female actor Youn Yuhjung and HolyBang on the stage to celebrate the festival."


The surprise event at the Blue Dragon Film Awards 2021 was the appearance of Actor Youn Yuhjung, who received the Academy Awards for the Best Supporting Actress this year for Minari. She waved her hands when all her film colleagues gave her a standing ovation and said, "We have had good movies and dramas all the time. The world is just suddenly paying attention to us now and you guys have to make sure what I’ve said now is true," encouraging juniors in the film industry.


Everglow (2021), SNOWBALL (2021) 


The 22nd Women In Film Korea Festival & the 8th Korean Film Producers Association Awards

The 22nd Women in Film Korea Festival and the 8th Korean Film Producers Association Awards, which will be held in mid-December, have already announced their winners.


At the 22nd Women in Film Korean Festival, which will be held on December 16th, Go Dooshim of Everglow will receive the Woman in Film of the Year Award. The Producer Award will go to CEO Kim Minkyung of BANDAL, the production company of Good Light, Good Air, the Best Director to Director Lee Ranhee of A Leave, and the Best Screenplay will be shared by Director Kim Mijo of Gull and Director Lee Woojung of SNOWBALL. The Best Actress will go to Moon Sori of Three Sisters, and Bang Minah has been selected as the Best New Actress. In addition, in the 8th Korean Film Producers Association Awards held on December 17, Director Lee Joonik of The Book of Fish will receive the Best Director Award, the Best Screenplay will go to Director Lee Seungwon of Three Sisters, and the Best Actress will go to Go Dooshim of Everglow while Sul Kyunggu of The Book of Fish will award the Best Actor.

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