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2020 PIPFF Awardees & Jury Comments


International Feature Competition
― Grand Jury Prize:  Identifying Features
― Jury Prize:  Dust and Ashes
― Audience’s Choice:  Way Back Home

Korean Short Competition
― Grand Jury Prize:  Tiger and Ox
― Jury Prize:  School Meal
― Audience’s Choice:  Our Home

The 2020 Pyeongchang International Peace Film Festival marks the first offline event of its kind to be held in Korea since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out. With the act of going to theaters still being regarded largely unsafe, we could hear countless voices raising concerns about the future of film industry during this festival. That is why we are all the more grateful to the staff and volunteers for their tireless efforts to manage quarantine procedures and provide safe viewing experiences in the past week.

Indeed, no one knows for sure how the industry will be reshaped post-coronavirus. For one thing, as we evaluated the entries to the Korean Short Competition, we did so with a grave sense of responsibility that what we do here today shall contribute to empowering our film industry to thrive while actively adapting to a changing environment. All 18 films were exceptional, making the judging process a challenging task. We did our best to choose the ones that clearly deliver its own story in a distinctive voice of its own.

Grand Jury Prize goes to KIM Seunghee's Tiger and Ox. Watching an obvious truth unfold in an unaffected manner, we felt like receiving a surprise gift. This is a rare gem of a movie in which the artist's life, combined with cinematic calibre, gives birth to a very unique and compelling narrative. Rather than trying to conclude with a moral message, KIM poses a sharp question at the end on a deep-rooted social issue. The high level of accomplishment and authenticity present in it made us unanimously reach our decision to give out the Grand Prize.

Jury Prize goes to HAN Hye In's School Meal, which provides an excellent metaphor of today's educational system that forces a cookie-cutter approach to all. HAN's unique directorial style is matched by striking images of black and white, effectively depicting the emotional states of the protagonist. It was shocking, if not frightening, to discover that the seemingly natural act of eating could be a form of violence. With this award, we look forward to an exciting next project from the director who has truly showed her unique color.

Our Honorable Mention goes to Hide and Seek by KIM Doyeon. We are awed by the stellar, heartfelt performances of actors NAM Mi-jeong, WOO Yeon and KIM Ja-young. We hope to see more of these awesome actors in the future.

Our special thanks go to all the directors, actors and crew members involved in the filmmaking of the 18 entries for the spectacular work they have done. Thank you.

The Jury
KIM Bora, KIM Hyena, SHIN Dong-seok

Identifying Features
Set in an apocalyptic border land of Mexico, Fernanda VALADEZ's Identifying Features showcases magnificent camera work that poignantly captures a mother's unyielding determination to find her missing son under devastating conditions. Undeterred by a tragic event that happened to her son and his friend who left in chase of American Dream, the mother keeps her search. While moving back and forth urban and rural Mexico, the director's viewfinder does not just reveal scenes of deep social inequality or hostility floating in the air; it looks squarely at those living in it, and their will toward life. The depth and breadth of the gaze is so shrewd and rich that one can only feel the weight it carries, further agreeing to the possibility of empathy and solidarity. On this ground, the Jury has selected Identifying Features as the winner.

Dust and Ashes
Dust and Ashes is an impressive directorial debut feature by PARK Hee Kwon whose dry portrayal of the atypical, bizarre acts by a brother and sister during their mother's funeral is reminiscent of a silent film, with scenes of growing tension cumulating in a distant, indescribable grief. The unusual behavior of the characters are highlighted through apocalyptic imagery such as the humble home facing demolition, heavy air surrounding the soon-to-be-destroyed neighborhood, and filthy water that would not wash away with rain. The film describes a gloomy reality through intricate layers of piercing images, stirring the hearts of those who cannot but endure such harsh circumstances. It is upon this heartbreaking realization that the jury unanimously agrees to award the Jury Prize to Dust and Ashes.

Pitching Project

Our Times
― Grand Prize:  Witness  PARK Myungjin
― Excellence Prize:  Lady Trash  YU Hyemin, SHIN Hyein

Beyond the Border
― Grand Prize:  Made in Gaeseong  PARK Eunyoung, KIM Youngjin
― Excellence Prize:  UFO in Daesungdong  PARK Geunyoung

The 2020 PIPFF called for entries to its Pitching Project in two segments - Our Times for films dealing with today's social agenda, and Beyond the Border for those delivering messages of inter-Korean peace. There were a total of 63 submissions, 39 and 24 respectively. Through preliminary screening, six socially-relevant films and four peace-themed films were offered the chance to present at the final pitching event.

The judging process was based on a set of strict criteria, including delivery of message, movie-making quality and feasibility. After heated debate and discussion, the jury has decided as follows.

The winners of Our Times segment are Witness (Grand Prize) and Lady Trash (Excellence Prize). Both projects were highly rated for their originality and social relevance. Witness had a clear theme and suggested an intriguing format that would follow the character's internal struggle from a psychoanalytic perspective, making us anticipate all the more a screen adaptation of the concept. Lady Trash was spot on in that it dealt with the big societal problem of waste, which unfortunately puts the younger generation under considerable strain. We hope that this award will be a helpful stepping-stone in the budding directors' filmmaking journey ahead.

The Grand Prize for Beyond the Border goes to Made in Gaeseong, while UFO in DMZ Town takes home the Excellence Prize. Both not only conformed to the theme of Korean reunification, but also exhibited positive and hopeful view of such future, which served as a key determining factor in this case. The strong genre characteristics of a romance film can be as tricky as a double-edged sword, but Gaeseong appeared to be genuinely committed to achieving such feat under an unusual setting. On a similar note, UFO... had elements that could be rather hard to realize on screen, but we decided to focus on the optimistic energy it exudes about a unified future that will positively impact our next generation. With a bit deeper understanding of production budget and genre-specific needs, we believe, it will turn out to be a significant piece of work on the subject.

Each and every single entry submitted showed its unique color and the potential to be made into a meaningful film. We send our support and best wishes to all the candidates, who, we hope, will not let the results discourage them from pursuing their dreams.

The Jury
CHOI Jaewon, CHOI Yun, Woody SHIN, KIM Eunyoung and Jenna KU

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