Lee Su-jin’s hard-hitting debut film Han Gong-ju was presented with the Grand Prize at the 2nd annual Wildflower Film Awards Korea. Its main actress Chun Woo-hee also won the Best Actress award. A total of 10 awards and two special commendations were announced and presented in a ceremony at Literature House Seoul on April 9.
Han Gong-ju centers around a high school girl who transfers to a new school, but is unable to escape the trauma of her recent past. It was critically acclaimed, and one of the highest grossing Korean independent films of the year 2014.
The Wildflower Film Awards recognize the achievements of filmmakers working outside of Korea’s mainstream commercial film industry. Awarded films were chosen from among the 60+ low-budget films (defined as under 1 billion won, ~$900,000) and 30 documentaries that received a theatrical release in Korea in the calendar year 2014.
Ten awards presented
Apart from the Grand Prize, Hong Sangsoo and Park Chan-kyong received the Best Director – Narrative and Best Director – Documentary awards respectively. Hong Sangsoo’s 16th feature film Hill of Freedom premiered in the Horizons section at last year’s Venice Film Festival, while the documentary Manshin explores the life of one of Korea’s most famous shamans.
The Best Actor award went to Ahn Jae-hong for his role in the indie comedy The King of Jokgu, which enjoyed an extended run in theaters last autumn. Best New Actor was presented to Choi Woo-shik for his role in the film Set Me Free, and Best New Actress was won by child actor Kim Su-an for her appearance in Kim Tae-yong’s short film Picnic, a part of the zombie omnibus movie Mad Sad Bad produced by the Korean Academy of Film Arts.
Other awards presented include Best Screenplay to A Girl at My Door director July Jung, Best New Director to Lee Yong-seung for his debut 10 Minutes, and Best Cinematography to Kelvin Kyung Kun Park and Stone Kim for the documentary A Dream of Iron, which originally unspooled at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival.
Prizewinners each received a specially designed trophy from Konkuk University professor Lee Harin, a well-known figure in Korea’s ceramic arts community.
Two special commendations were also presented, to actress Shin Min-a for her performance in Zhang Lu’s Gyeongju, and to artninefilm CEO Jung Sangjin for his support of Korean independent films.
Apart from the awards ceremony, a 3-day screening series at Seoul Cinema presented 6 of the nominated films, and a special book was published with essays and original illustrations of 11 outstanding Korean independent films released in 2014.
How the awards were chosen
Both film professionals and the general audience took part in the choosing of the awards. A Wildflower Film Awards selection committee made up of 25 dedicated viewers of Korean independent films met regularly throughout 2014 to watch and discuss new releases. Nominations were chosen in February through voting by the selection committee, and final voting took place in March by the selection committee and invited critics and programmers.
About the organizers
The Wildflower Film Awards Korea is an independent body whose primary purpose is to build awareness and interest in Korean independent/low-budget films. It is headed by Director Darcy Paquet, a film columnist and Korean cinema specialist who has been living in Seoul since 1997; and Organizing Director Oh Dong-jin, a film critic and Director of the Marie Claire Film Festival.
The name “Wildflower Film Awards” is meant to symbolize the creative fertility and diversity of the independent film sector, which grow and thrive even in the most difficult of environments.