SKorea shocker screens at San Sebastian festival
Graphic scenes in the ultra-violent South Korean thriller "I Saw the Devil" had some viewers heading for the exits at the San Sebastian Film Festival Saturday.
Director Kim Jee-Woon's latest film, built around a secret agent's pursuit of the serial killer who murdered his wife, contains a string of scenes so shocking that there was a special warning in the festival programme.
The film, which clocks in at nearly two and a half hours, was also targetted by the censors in the director's home country.
But Kim insisted that the violence was a means and not an end itself.
The film dealt with the irony of life, he told reporters: his aim was to show that to "punish the devil," to obtain a "perfect revenge", you have to transform yourself into a devil yourself.
But he acknowledged that because of the violence the film had performed more poorly in South Korea than any of his previous works.
Kim's latest film is a change in tone from earlier, more atmospheric works such as the ghost story "A Tale of Two Sisters" (2003), remade in the US as "The Uninvited" (2009).
"I Saw the Devil" (Akma-reul Bo-at-da) is one of the 15 films in competition for the festival's top prize, the Golden Shell, the winner of which will be announced next Saturday.
Also competing is Spanish film The Great Vasquez (El Gran Vasquez), set in 1960s Barcelona, about the comic book artist Manolo Vazquez, which screened Saturday.
Billed a comedy, it nevertheless also seeks to explore the light and shade of the artist's life, without descending into ridicule, said director Oscar Aibar, who himself has worked as a scriptwriter for underground comics.
Other films in competition include "Amigo", which unites US independent director John Sayles with actor Chris Cooper in a film about the US occupation of the Philippines.
Scotland's Peter Mullan will show his latest film "Neds" a coming-of-age film set in 1970s Glasgow. His last film "The Magdalene Sisters", won the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival.
© 2010 AFP