Abused South Korea actress slams ‘hypocritical’ Berlin filmfest

This file picture taken on December 14, 2017 shows staff members holding a white screen in Seoul while an anonymous South Korean actress speaks from behind the folding screen during a press conference accusing director Kim Ki-Duk of abusing her. (AFP)
Updated 11 February 2018

Abused South Korea actress slams ‘hypocritical’ Berlin filmfest

SEOUL: A South Korean actress has accused the Berlin film festival organizers of hypocrisy for inviting a director who assaulted her to this year’s event while promoting it as a forum to tackle abuse in the industry.
The actress, who has refused to be publicly identified, last year accused renowned Seoul director Kim Ki-duk of physical and sexual abuse, saying he beat her and forced her into unscripted, unwanted sex and nude scenes while shooting his 2013 film “Moebius.”
Kim, 57, is one of South Korea’s top directors whose awards include Berlin’s Silver Bear for “Samaritan Girl” in 2004 and the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for “Pieta” in 2012.
His latest work “Human, Space, Time and Human” will have its world premiere in the Panorama Special section of this year’s Berlinale, which begins Thursday.
“I find the decision to invite Kim deeply sad and extremely hypocritical,” the actress told AFP, adding she had been left “devastated” by the experience.
“Kim admitted and was found guilty of physically assaulting me on the film set. Yet the Berlinale rolled out a red carpet to him while boasting about their support for the #Metoo movement,” she said.
Berlinale chief Dieter Kosslick said last week that this year’s festival would shine a light on sexual misconduct and serve as a “forum” to bring “concrete changes” to the treatment of women in the film industry.
Some of the most high-profile cases revealed by the global #MeToo phenomenon have involved top entertainment figures, such as movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and actor-director Kevin Spacey.
Kosslick said Tuesday he had disqualified some productions from the festival because a director, screenwriter or star was facing credible sexual misconduct allegations.

The actress spoke out in December about the abuse she suffered at Kim’s hands on the set of the 2013 film, where she was eventually replaced by another actress.
Her allegation is a rarity in the South’s lucrative, male-dominated film industry.
But she still spoke behind a white screen during her press conference for fear of online bullying and shaming in a nation that remains patriarchal despite its economic and technological advances.
“One day, Kim said ‘I’ll set your emotion’ and suddenly slapped my face really hard three times in a row in front of everybody, before turning the camera toward me and filming,” she said then.
“I was so shocked... but had to start acting right away,” she went on, adding that none of the crew said “a single word to stop him.”
Seoul prosecutors dropped sexual abuse charges citing a lack of evidence but fined Kim 5 million won ($4,600) under a procedure where minor cases can be handled without going to court.
Kim admitted slapping the actress for the purposes of an “acting lesson” but denied the other allegations of wrongdoing.
Women in the South’s tight-knit movie business, both on screen and behind the camera, fear making public accusations against prominent figures, said Hong Tae-Hwa, secretariat director of the Federation of Korea Movie Workers’ Union.
“They are so afraid of having their career practically terminated in this industry, from which you can be banned for life for speaking out about the slightest abuse by directors or producers,” he said.
Kosslick told AFP that the Berlinale was aware of the accusations against Kim, and that he had been convicted and fined, but that the sexual harassment allegations had been dismissed for lack of evidence.
It was seeking more information about an appeal in the case, he added.
“Obviously the Berlinale condemns and opposes any form of violence or sexual misconduct,” he said.
Kim has kept a low profile and refused to talk to the media in South Korea since the scandal sparked nationwide fury last year.
But his return to the Berlinale — one of Europe’s top three film festivals — has been widely reported in the country as something of a status restoration, with headlines such as the Ilgan Sports tabloid’s reading: “Troubled at home, loved overseas.”
It took four years for the actress to come forward after being told by industry figures that she had “no chance” of winning a legal case against Kim, whose career would “hardly suffer a dent” even if she spoke out.
“And the Berlin film festival proved that those people were right,” she told AFP, urging the festival organizers to pay more attention to “obscure, powerless” members of the industry.
“Unlike the famous Hollywood actresses who spoke out for #Metoo campaign, I’m just an obscure actress in a small Asian country,” she said.
“But that does not mean that my suffering is something that can be ignored and forgotten.”

Nadine Labaki, Rami Malek score Oscar nominations as race kicks off

Updated 22 January 2019

Nadine Labaki, Rami Malek score Oscar nominations as race kicks off

DUBAI: The Oscar nominations were announced on Tuesday, with Lebanese director Nadine Labaki scoring a nomination for her film, “Capernaum.”

Meanwhile, American-Egyptian actor Rami Malek was nominated for “Leading Actor” for his role as Freddie Mercury in in Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” while breakout star Mahershala Ali scored a “Supporting Actor” nomination for his role in “Green Book.” Ali made history for being reported as the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar in 2017, for his role in "Moonlight."

Actors Tracee Ellis Ross and Kumail Nanjiani announced the nominations at 5:20 a.m. in Los Angeles, as film critics, movie stars and producers and directors across the world set their alarms early to catch the eagerly-awaited submissions for Hollywood's most coveted awards.

The show will take place on Feb. 24 and will see Hollywood’s cream of the crop go head to head.

Labaki’s “Capernaum” was widely expected to be nominated as it has been well received by international critics.

The gritty film, which won the 2018 Cannes Jury Prize, centers on a poverty-stricken child who sues his parents in protest of the life they have given him. Last year’s Oscar entry from Lebanon, Ziad Doueiri’s “The Insult,” also earned a nomination.

One of the most buzzed-about foreign language films this year, however, is “Roma” from Alfonso Cuaron — a black and white ode to his childhood in 1970s Mexico City that took home two Golden Globes, including best director.

The film was produced by streaming giant Netflix, which has come under criticism from its more traditional rivals for its strategy of massive online distribution of original content — and screenings in only a few cinemas.

“Roma” is the first Netflix film to vie for glory in major Oscar categories.

It was also nominated in the coveted “Best Film” category, alongside “Black Panther”

“BlacKkKlansman,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Favorite,” “Green Book,” “Roma” and “A Star is Born.”

Last year, the awards season was marked by the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and the birth of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements against sexual misconduct and harassment in the workplace.

This year, multiple controversies are plaguing the Oscars — none of them related to last year's bombshell.

In August, the Academy — under fire for being too elitist — announced it would add a “best popular film” award. But many saw the new category as a booby prize for blockbusters like “Black Panther” that would keep them out of contention for top honors.

The plan was scrapped a month later.

Then actor-comedian Kevin Hart had perhaps the briefest tenure ever as Oscars host — a few days. He withdrew after homophobic tweets he had written years ago sparked a crippling backlash on social media.

Of course, on Oscars night, the focus will revert to the nominees and the red carpet glamor.

Key Nominations

Best Film

‘Black Panther’


‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

‘The Favorite’

‘Green Book’


‘A Star is Born’


Best Foreign Language Film  

‘Capernaum’ (Lebanon)

‘Cold War’ (Poland)

‘Never Look Away’ (Germany)

‘Roma’ (Mexico)

‘Shoplifters’ (Japan)

Best Actor

Christian Bale, "Vice"

Bradley Cooper, "A Star Is Born"

Willem Dafoe, "At Eternity's Gate"

Rami Malek, "Bohemian Rhapsody"

Viggo Mortensen, "Green Book"

Best Actress 

Yalitza Aparicio, "Roma"

Glenn Close, "The Wife"

Olivia Colman, "The Favourite"

Lady Gaga, "A Star Is Born"

Melissa McCarthy, "Can You Ever Forgive Me?"