Opening and closing films of the Orizzonti section

La Belle endormie, written and directed by Catherine Breillat – one of the most important observers of our time on the themes of desire and sexuality –  and Oki’s Movie (Ok-hui-ui yeonghwa) by Hong Sang-soo – considered the real founder of the new Korean cinema, winner this year at Cannes of the “Un certain regard” prize for his film Hahaha – will be respectively the opening and closing films of the new Orizzonti Section of the 67th Venice International Film Festival (September 1-11, 2010), directed by Marco Mueller and organized by la Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta.

Both films – which will have their world premiere screenings respectively on Thursday September 2 and Saturday 11 at the Sala Darsena – will be in competition for the new prizes reserved for feature-length films (Orizzonti Award and Special Orizzonti Jury Prize) in the section that this year will be open to all “custom-format” works, with a wider outlook concerning the new directions in expressive language that are emerging in cinema.

La Belle endormie by Catherine Breillat – freely inspired by folk tales and the fairy tale by Charles Perrault – is interpreted by Carla Besnaïnou (Anastasia), Kérian Mayan (Peter), Julia Artamonov (Anastasia at age 16), David Chausse (Johan). It is a production of Flach Film Production – Cb Films – Arte France and is produced by Jean-François Lepetit and Sylvette Frydman. Catherine Breillat, who had already worked last year on a transposition of another fairy tale by Charles Perrault, Barbe Bleue, has said on the subject of La Belle endormie: “Unlike Barbe Bleue, I would like to consider this fairytale not as a story that two girls tell each other, but as the story of a girl being born (she does not yet know into what world), and creates her own little girl’s world. Childhood is a long and ruthless limbo that precedes adolescence – even if that is precisely when the fairytale beginning of the story is set. Hence the girl grows little by little and becomes an adolescent, who naively believes that she knows everything about life. But life is not a fairytale, and love during adolescence is like early motherhood, which leads to a different life reality. It “brings your feet back on the ground”, as they say. It is therefore no longer a fairytale, but an account of a life that is beginning”.

Oki’s Movie (Ok-hui-ui yeonghwa) is the eleventh full-length film directed by Hong Sang-soo. The story, which renews Hong’s obsession with complex narrative plots, is divided into four chapters, A Day for Chanting (Jumuneul oeul nal), King of Kiss (Kiseu wang), After the Snowstorm (Pokseol hu) and Oki’s Movie (Ok-hui-ui yeonghwa). A young filmmaker, his old professor of cinema, and the beautiful Oki, caught between the two men, are the protagonists of this story developing between present and past, reality and cinematic fiction. Played by Lee Sun-kyun (Jin-gu), Jung Yu-mi (Ok-hui) and Moon Sung-keun (Prof. Song), the film is written and directed by Hong Sang-soo, produced by his company, Jeonwonsa, and sold by FineCut Co. Ltd

Director, screenwriter, author, Catherine Breillat is one of the most important figures in French film and culture today. She has worked in the past with Maurice Pialat, Liliana Cavani, Federico Fellini, Marco Bellocchio, and participated in the Venice International Film Festival in 2000 as the screenwriter for Selon Matthieu by Xavier Beauvois (in competition), and in 2001 as the director and screenwriter of Brève Traversée. In 2007 Marco Mueller selected her for the special jury, composed entirely of film directors, for the 75th anniversary of the Venice International Film Festival. Her works include: 36 fillette (1987), presented at Locarno; Romance (1999); Sex Is Comedy (2002), the opening film of the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs at Cannes; Anatomie de l’enfer (2003); Une vieille maîtresse (2006), in competition at Cannes; and Barbe bleue (2009), presented in the Panorama section in Berlin. Her latest book, Abus de faiblesse, was published in 2009.

Hong Sang-soo is considered the real founder of the new Korean cinema which, ten years now, has received the most important awards at every major international film festival, leading South Korea to centre stage in world cinema. His first full-length film, The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well (Dwaejiga umure bbajin nal, 1996), Tiger Award at Rotterdam Film Festival winner, is considered the launch of a sparkling new generation that brought to international screens the films of Kim Ki-duk, Park Chan-wook, Lee Chang-dong, etc … His most significant works include: The Power of Kangwon Province (Gangwon-do ui him, 1998), Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors (O! Sujeong, 2000), both presented at the Cannes Film Festival, Night and Day (Bam-gwa nat, 2008), in competition at Berlin; and Hahaha (2010), the closing film and winner of the Un Certain Regard selection at Cannes 2010. Oki’s Movie (Ok-hui-ui yeonghwa) is his first participation at the Venice Film Festival.

Biographical notes

Catherine Breillat

Born in Bressuire, France, Catherine Breillat, director, scriptwriter and writer. Her first novel, L’homme facile (1965), was published at 17 while in 1972 she played the part of Mouchette in Last tango in Paris (Ultimo tango a Parigi) by Bernardo Bertolucci. She soon abandoned her career as an actress and dedicated herself to writing scripts for Maurice Pialat (Police, 1985), working also with Liliana Cavani on the script for La pelle (1981), with Federico Fellini for And the Ship Sails On (E la nave va, 1983), and as assistant editor for Marco Bellocchio on The Eyes, the Mouth (Gli occhi, la bocca, 1982). In 1976, she made her debut as director with A Real Young Girl (Une vraie jeune fille), an adaptation of her own novel, Le soupirail. She also produced the music for this film, as she later did for Fat Girl (À ma soeur!, 2000). The common denominator in Breillat’s films is without a doubt sexuality: investigated, denied, sought, suffered, resigned to. The director has said: “The stronger passion is, the more it is associated with suffering – one’s own and that of others”. Female sexuality becomes the means for investigating oneself, for analysing one’s own demons and dark zones: a sort of disturbing psychoanalytical session. Breillat’s cinema proclaims its proud desire for diversity to the world, as already revealed in the titles of her films, often punctuated by exclamation marks, from Parfait amour! (1996) to À ma soeur! (2000), the story of Anaïs, a clumsy, skinny girl of 12 nourishing a love-hate relationship for her 15-year-old sister, who is sunny and beautiful, and through whom she tests her own emotions. This film, which provoked a lively debate, as do the French director’s works in general, won numerous prizes at the Cannes, Berlin, Rotterdam and Chicago film festivals.

Catherine Breillat’s entire filmography may be considered a continuous reference to Nagisa Oshima’s masterpiece, In The Realm of the Senses (Ai no corrida, 1976), but also to such directors as Georges Bataille and Jacques Lacan. The theme of looking, whether directly or indirectly and, consequently that of voyeurism too, is always present in her films, as is non-conformity that goes beyond any simple provocation and becomes an instrument for liberation and purification. She participated in the 2000 edition of the Venice Film Festival, having written the script for To Mathieu (Selon Matthieu) by Xavier Beauvois, and in 2001 with Brief Crossing (Brève Traversée), the story of a 30-year-old woman disillusioned and disgusted by men and love, who seduces and is seduced by a 16-year-old. Among Breillat’s works, it is also worth recalling Nocturnal Uproar (Tapage nocturne, 1979); 36 filette (1987) presented at the Locarno Film Festival, with Jean-Pierre Léaud; Sale comme un ange (1991); Romance (1999) with Rocco Siffredi; Sex is comedy (2002); Anatomy of Hell (Anatomie de l’enfer, 2003); and finally The Last Mistress (Une vieille maîtresse, 2006) presented in competition at the 60th Cannes Film Festival, inspired by a novel by Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly, which tells the story of a 19th-century libertine torn between a noble and pure young maiden and a turbid, possessive lover, played by Asia Argento. In 2009, at the Berlin Festival in the Panorama section, she presented Blue Beard (Barbe Bleue), an exploration of the famous fairytale by Charles Perrault, in which the director develops, as fairytale and memory, her favourite themes concerning the relationship between sisters and the subtle game of seduction.

Hong Sang-soo

Hong Sang-soo was born in South Korea in 1960. After studying directing at the University of Chungang in Seoul, he left for the United States where he studied at the College of Arts and Crafts in California and at the Art Institute of Chicago. In the United States, he filmed a series of shorts, thinking that he would dedicate his work to experimental film until he discovered Bresson’s film The Diary of a Country Priest (Journal d’un curé de campagne), which changed his mind. After spending several months at the Cinémathèque Française, he returned to South Korea where he worked as a director for television. Fascinated with the exploration of human nature and its weaknesses through a sentimental lens, he made his intentions clear from the very beginning by focusing on love and betrayal in his debut film, a low-cost feature entitled The Day a Pig Fell into the Well (Dwaejiga umure bbajin nal , 1996) which earned important acknowledgments at the Asia Pacific Film Festival, the Rotterdam International Film Festival and the Vancouver International Film Festival. Korean critics unanimously acclaimed the director’s personal vision and artistic ambition as a breath of fresh air for Korean filmmaking. With his film The Power of Kangwon Province (Gangwon-do-ui him , 1998) he participated for the first time in the Un Certain Regard Section of the Cannes Film Festival. In 2000, he returned to Un Certain Regard with Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors (O! Sujeong): a cubist film that pays tribute to Marcel Duchamp, filmed in mellow black and white, and that explores the potential of a divided and non-sequential narrative. The quest for complex screenwriting structures, often masked by a simple surface, characterizes all Hong’s work and has attracted favourable reactions from such prestigious international publications as “Cahiers du Cinema”, “Positif” and “Film Comment”. This formula found its greatest success in 2002 with Turning Gate (Saenghwal-ui balgyeon), a comedy that launched the career of Kim Sang-kyung, one of the most popular contemporary Korean actors. His next two films, Woman Is the Future of Man (Yeojaneun namja-ui miraeda, 2004) and Tale of Cinema (Geukjangjeon, 2005), were both presented in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. His following film Woman on the Beach (Haebyeon-ui yeoin, 2006) was invited to the festivals in Toronto and Berlin, in the Panorama section. For Night and Day (Bam-gwa nat, 2008), he filmed abroad for the first time, locating his story in Paris in the summer, a city filled with the echoes of Rohmer; the film was presented in competition in Berlin 2008 and earned great critical acclaim. He returned to Cannes with Like you know it all (Jal aljido mothamyeonseo , 2009), in the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs Section. In 2009 Hong Sang-soo participated in the Visitors project, commissioned by the Jeonju International Film Festival, with Naomi Kawase and Lav Diaz. And it was again Un Certain Regard that showed Hahaha (2010) this year, which won Hong Sang-soo the prize for Best Film, awarded by the jury chaired by Claire Denis.