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A vicious man (Lee Jung-Jin) works for a loan shark as an enforcer. When customers are unable to pay for their outrageous interest payments the man forces these borrowers to gimp their own bodies to collect insurance money. A woman (Jo Min-Soo) then appears in front of the man and gets down on her knees. She tells the man that she is her mother and begs for forgiveness. The vicious man was given up for adoption as soon as he was born. The man quickly dismisses the woman as crazy, but her persistance soon cracks through the man's hardened outer shell. Can the mother and son find happiness at last?
- Filming began February 15, 2012 and finished March 9, 2012.
- "Pieta" is director Kim Ki-Duk's 18th film.
- To commemorate "Pieta" being invited to the competition section of this year's Venice Film Festival, a novel version of "Pieta" and a wine "Pieta" will be released. The novel will be published September 6, 2012 with Hwang Ra-Hyun and Kim Ki-Duk credited as co-authors. The novel will be published by Gayeon Publishing Company. In addition, Daeyoo Wines will release the official wine "Pieta" for the movie with, which is the Italian wine "Villa M Romeo". The labeling for the wine bottle is based on the movie poster of "Pieta".
- "Pieta" is the first South Korean film to win the "Golden Lion for Best Film" at the Venice Film Festival.
- "Pieta" is selected as Korea's submission to the 2012 Academy Awards "Best Foreign Language Film".
Additional Cast Members:
- 2012 (69th) Venice Film Festival - August 29-September 8, 2012 - Venezia 69 (Competition)
- 2012 (37th) Toronto International Film Festival - September 6-16, 2012 - Masters
- 2012 (20th) Filmfest Hamburg - September 27-October 6, 2012 *German Premiere
- 2012 (17th) Busan International Film Festival - October 4-13, 2012 - Korean Cinema Today - Panorama
- 2012 (45th) Sitges Film Festival - October 4-14, 2012 - Noves Visions - Ficció
- 2012 (9th) Hong Kong Asian Film Festival - November 2-November 18, 2012 - Closing Film
- 2012 (13th) TOKYO FILMeX - Nov. 23- Dec. 2, 2012 - Special Screenings
- 2013 (42nd) International Film Festival Rotterdam - January 23-February 3, 2012 - Spectrum
- 2013 (31st) Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival - April 2-13, 2013 - Thriller Competition
- 2013 (15th) Deauville Asian Film Festival - March 6-10, 2013 - Non-Competing
- 2013 (16th) Shanghai International Film Festival - June 15-23, 2013 - Official Collection
- 2013 (4th) Korean Film Festival in Australia - August 14-September 11, 2013 - Dark Matter
- 2014 (14th) New Horizons International Film Festival - July 24-Aug. 3, 2014 - Season 2013/2014
Q&A (Busan International Film Festival)
Q&A for "Pieta" took place over two different sessions with director Kim Ki-Duk at the 2012 Busan International Film Festival. The first session occurred on October 11, 2012 and the second session took place on October 12, 2012. AsianWiki editor Ki Mun was there and transcribed/translated the session.
- Moderator: I think the two main characters perform with theatrical type of lines. Did you plan this and asked the actors perform in this way?
- Kim Ki-Duk: I wrote the screenplay with a literary style rather than a colloquial style. The actors performed according to my script. That's why you got that impression.
- Audience Question: I read some interviews with you after you won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. In the interviews, you mentioned that when you were young, you worked in the Cheonggyecheon area where the film is set. In the middle of the film, there is a line that asks "have you ever looked at Cheonggyecheon from the sky"? Is that drawn from your own personal experience?
- Kim Ki-Duk: I began working at the age of 16 in places in Cheonggyecheon like you see in the movie. I worked there for about 4 to 5 years without going to high school. At that time, Euljiro 2-ga and Myeongdong areas in Seoul, were similar to Cheonggyecheon, but now those area have a lot of skyscrapers and they've changed a lot. Cheonggyecheon hasn't changed that much and is quite similar to when I was there.
- Audience Question: In your movie, I saw a lot of industrial machines. Did you focus on those machines to show a hidden side to industrial development or are they just there, because those machines are related to your youth? Second question, why did you pick the movie title "Pieta"?
- Kim Ki-Duk: Pieta means mercy or sympathy. The reason I picked Pieta as the movie's title is that when I went to Vatican City I saw the Pieta statue. At that moment, I felt heavy sadness and the pain of our modern society. Looking at the Pieta statue, with Mary holding Jesus, I felt sadness. That's why I chose the movie title. About your first question. There are a lot of industrial machines like the lathe, milling machine and the press in Cheonggyecheon. The images of these industrial machines are powerful to me. The press machine goes up, down, press and turn. I feel power in those machines. In the movie, even though I don't show graphic scenes, people associate the machines with graphic violence. The machines are not operated by machines, but by people. Isn't it terrible? I think that is our life. Operating a machine is similar to our lives. In the movie, the camera shows the skies of Cheonggyecheon then suddenly zooms into the machines. The machines sounds like a heart beating. That scene is from my own philosophy on life.
- Audience Question: When I watched your past film "Breath" I noticed a highway sign that was shown backwards. In the middle of "Pieta" there is a clock that is backwards. At that time I thought of the word paradox. Is there a connection between that part in "Breath" and the clock in "Pieta"? Also, does the movie feature a paradox or is the movie itself a paradox?
- Kim Ki-Duk: That's a difficult question to answer. I'm not sure if I can give you the right explanation. I think the highway sign in "Breath" and the clock in "Pieta" is a joke. If we try to find deeper meanings than we can, but it can also be meaningless. I think that's how life is. Someone can fall into an open manhole. I don't want to put deeper meaning into that. It's up to the individual to interpret those scenes as they feel. That can also be irresponsible. People might think I've changed after winning the Golden Lion, but I'm not a fraud. I have made movies for a long time. I have made very clear films like "Address Unknown" which is based on realism and movies like "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring" which shows nature and people. My movies are not movies which give answers, but rather gives questions.
- Moderator: In "Pieta," a theme of revenge occurs, but, on the other hand, atonement also occurs. Could you elaborate?
- Kim Ki-Duk: I think there are three main themes in the movie. Money, family and the last one is atonement or redemption. The movie isn't so much about my answer, but what I want to ask the audience. I think it's up to the audience to interpret those three themes.
- Audience Question: I have two questions. First, Gang-Do often takes live animals and kills them by himself and eats it. Why did you put that in the film? The second question, the camera often zooms in and out which is unusual from other films I have watched so far. Why did you film it in this manner?
- Kim Ki-Duk: Gang-Do is a character who stays in his early childhood period, like still having wet dreams. Children sometimes have a tendency to kill animals. They just don't know better, rather than being cruel. About the camera with the close ups and panning out. I think what is important is to shoot what is necessary. In the factory scenes, I held the camera. The unusual looking scenes were shot by me. I did not want to be locked in with a common methodology. I discussed this with the movie photographer a lot and, with his concession, I shot those scenes. If the scenes failed then it's all my fault.
- Audience Question: I'm a Kim Ki-Duk fan. I have watched "Pieta" three times so far. I would like to ask you the meaning of the mother in the film and what kind of message you would like to deliver of the mother through this movie?
- Kim Ki-Duk: I don't think I can define the mother in one word. According to her plan, the mother does what she does. This is what the movie is about. I think the mother in the film is very special. She has different qualities from typical mothers so I can't really define her. She's like the sea. You can interpret appropriately. When I wrote the screenplay, I didn't think of it as a revenge story, because we are all perpetrators, accomplices and, at the same time, victims. This is what I meant. In a later scene, there is forgiveness. Gang-Do wears the sweater and insists its his. I don't think the movie is a revenge story, but a story of a mother having two children.
- Audience Question: In the last scene I see the mountains. I would like to know why you filmed that scene in that manner?
- Kim Ki-Duk: The scene is expressing the idea of "that is life". In the last scene, the truck is in transit and the camera shows the foot of the mountains. I think every phenomen in the world is like the foot of the mountains. Our life is filled with ups and downs, like the foot of the mountains. If we don't have an understanding like that then life will be really difficult to bear. There's so many things that we can't fathom why they occur.
- Audience Question: This is the last GV (guest visit) for me. I attended 12 GV's at the Busan International Film Festival. All of them were Korean films. The subjects of these 12 films seem to have in common themes of revenge, hatred, rage and then reconciliation and something swept up by revenge, hatred or rage. I think your movie is the epitome of this tendency. I also think this tendency is somehow related to changes in Korean society. Can you tell us about that?
- Kim Ki-Duk: This morning I watched the film "National Security". What I felt from that film is that we are all perpetrators and at the same time victims. I think "National Security" has a similar theme to my movie. I think what you said is right.
- Audience Question: When I watch your movie I think that people shouldn't live wicked lives. Do you think what we need is to build more positive relationships among people?
- Kim Ki-Duk: When I make a film, there's usually a lot of shocking scenes or unbearable scenes. What I want to say with those scenes is that our society is a small vertical society and I hope it can change to a large leveled society, even though we can't avoid competition. Thinking about this theme I made the movie "Pieta". I hope the audience can understand this theme.
- Audience Question: Your movies, including "Pieta", have religious aspects from various religions. This might be a sensitive matter, but in what way do you use religion in your movies?
- Kim Ki-Duk: First, I don't have religious prejudice. I went to church. Regardless of the religion, I think religion is a prayer that comes out from this space of life. I still think there are some fundamental problems which we need to solve. I think my movies, including "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring," are movies about life, but depending on who watches the film they can interpret things differently. Like the last scene in "Pieta". Gang-Do's figure resembles Jesus Christ, but if someone isn't religious then Gang-Do's figure can be seen as a reconciliation of life. I'm open to various interpretations.
- Audience Question: "Pieta" won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Do you know why?
- Kim Ki-Duk: If I knew the secret then I would win all the time at Berlin or Cannes. I don't know why. I just made the movie from what I feel from the world. I think my movie was evaluated by seven judges. I would like to know the secret too.
- Audience Question: I have 2 questions. One thing is that I think Gang-Do's character is a lot like the image of Frankenstein. When you made his character did you think of Frankenstein? The second question is the violent behavior by Gang-Do something that happens in real life or exaggerated?
- Kim Ki-Duk: I don't think so regarding your first question and it doesn't mean the violent actions by Gang-Do occurs in real life. I expressed the violence of our modern society as a whole through his actions. I hope the audience can see that.
- Audience Question: "Pieta" is your 18th film. Your movies have different philosophies respectively. What philosophy do you have in "Pieta"? Also, can you tell us about your next film?
- Kim Ki-Duk: I have heard many times that "Pieta" is a commercial film. I asked myself whether that is right or not. I don't know. I think there is a difference you can feel, like wearing a hat or not. I categorize my films by close-up movies, shots from the waist up, long shots and panoramic shots according to space, society, time and people. For example, "Bad Guy" and "The Isle" are close-up films, "The Coast Guard" is a panoramic movie and "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring" is a long shot movie. I think "Pieta" is classified as a panoramic movie. I don't know if I have really changed or something inside of me just came out.
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