In Focus: The Firsts of Kim Ki-duk

Kim Ki-Duk (1960-2020) was one of South Korea's most decorated film directors who sadly passed away from complications of Covid-19. It is no exaggeration to mention that Ki-Duk's philosophical approach to the world gave many film fans their first glimpse of Asia's metaphorical cinematic language. Ki-Duk won trophies such as the Golden and Silver Lions at the Venice Film Festival, the Silver Bear at the Berlinale and the Prix Un Certain Regard at Cannes. At the Tallinn Film Festival Black Nights, he is the only director whose films have won the Audience Award two years in a row ("3-Iron" in 2004 and "The Bow" in 2005). Audiences all over the world love him and his films, especially his most admired work “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring” (2003) which has been considered the best film in the world multiple times. BBC critics chose the film among the 100 best films from the 2000s and The Guardian called the film “The Brightest Pearl” of Korean cinema. Kim Ki-Duk spent his last months in Estonia and Latvia. His last work, “Call of God” was filmed in Kazakhstan and screened at the Critics Picks competition programme at PÖFF 2022.

This year, HÕFF is going to present a 3-piece retrospective of Kim Ki-Duk's early works from his pre-breakthrough era: “Crocodile” (1996), “Birdcage Inn” (1998) and “The Isle” (2000). One of the common characteristics of all three films is a certain vibe of discomfort that the viewer receives: the director aims for the viewer’s accordance with the poorest lower-class society that has always been sort of invisible in the modern world. All three pieces are stunning and vulgar at the same time, but according to Ki-Duk, that kind of controversy creates a powerful energy that keeps our souls alive. He himself never lost his inner flame and was extremely hardworking until the end of his life. The numbers are impressive: he created more than 30 films and in most of them, he did the work of director, screenwriter, producer and editor.