‘Pieta’ by maverick director Kim Ki-duk, which won awards and accolades, is scheduled to be screened at IFFI, Goa.

South Korea’s acclaimed filmmaker Kim Ki-duk, will be one of the eminent personalities attending the opening of IFFI (International Film Festival of India) 2012, on November 20. This is his first trip to India. The celebrated director recently won the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Festival for ‘Pieta’. The film is a phenomenal resurrection for the filmmaker, who had faced a major set-back in his career from 2008 when he suffered a three-year bout of depression. During that time he lived in isolation.

His docu-drama, ‘Arirang,’ portrayed this trauma and won the top award in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Festival in 2011. But it is ‘Pieta,’ which pushed Kim back to the top, that has triggered an amazing resurrection for a man whose 18 films in a 16-year career have won awards at almost every top festival in the world.

Like his earlier films, this one also invites mixed reactions, thanks to its surfeit of sex and violence. In fact, that’s why Kim Ki-duk has earned a ‘bad boy’ image in his homeland, where his movies are seen as being negative to the country’s image.

However, his recent award at the Venice festival – the first for a Korean filmmaker - has changed all that. The maverick director will soon be conferred with one of the highest titles of his country - the Eun-gwan Medal (Silver Crown) of the ‘Order of Cultural Merit.’

At the recent Daejong awards event (the Korean Oscars), ‘Pieta’ did not win any major award. Kim Ki-duk was given a Special Judges’ award, but did not stay to receive it.

Kim will be attending the glittering IFFI event and will be flying to Goa immediately after being honoured at the felicitation ceremony in Seoul.

IFFI will have a retro of five films of the director, which are ‘Pieta,’ ‘Breath,’ ‘Time,’ ‘The Bow’ and ‘Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.’

‘Pieta’ will be presented by the director and is one of the most anticipated films at the festival. It’s the story of a ruthless loan-shark who maims the debtors who don’t pay him back. But the brutal man becomes confused, when he suddenly encounters a woman who claims to be his mother. The story moves through many stages of violence and pain, before the protagonist comes to terms with his angst. The performances of the two protagonists, who are two of Korea’s most versatile artists, have received the highest accolades, while the film has been described as a riveting amalgam of high violence and moving humanity. Variety described ‘Pieta’ as being, ‘A blend of cruelty, wit and moral complexity.’

The director confesses that the film is autobiographical, as he has worked as a manual labourer, soon after dropping out of school, and has seen the cruel ire of many loan-sharks.

He says that he was inspired to give a Christian title to the film, after seeing Michelangelo’s famed statue of Pieta at the Vatican.

“In the masterpiece, I saw the reflection of the money-centered capitalism, which is the tragedy of today, and decided on the title, ‘Pieta’,” he states.

Excerpts from an interview, with the director:

Why did you make 'Pieta' ?

Extreme capitalism is the theme. I tried to depict the life of people being destroyed by money. The financial crisis has affected every country in the world, including Korea. Families have broken up and suicide rates have gone up. Therefore, humans commit crimes and suffer from guilt. But what I want to say in the film is that humans can be forgiven by God for their crimes.

Do you believe in God?

I believe in a higher force and respect all religions.

What did your three-year break from films teach you?

I’ve accepted the imbalances of Life. I know that happiness and sorrow go side by side

How important is it for you to win the top award in Venice?

Very important. Now, more people will watch my film. By showing my film to the world, it will be an opportunity for people to think about money again. I also hope that theatre owners will open their doors a little wider for my films.

Will you get more money now to make your films?

I have never accepted money from anyone to make my films, but have always managed with my own funds. My 2000 film, ‘The Isle,’ was made on a budget of $ 50,000, which no one believed. ‘Pieta’ was made within $ 1,40,000, and we shot it in 13 days !

How special is the India visit to you?

This is my first trip to India and I’m excited. I’m aware that their musical films are cheerful and happy. I hope the audience will accept my film which has a cruel and sad story. They may feel a ‘miracle moment’, if they watch the film with their heart. I know that Indians believe in miracles too. I look forward to sharing my film with them.