Comedy from South Korea gets last laugh at Cannes

CANNES– Beating out strong contenders, South Korean comedy “Hahaha,” from writer-director Hong Sang-soo, took the top Un Certain Regard Prize Saturday at the 63rd Cannes Festival.

The latest tale of immature men, booze, women and film folk from Hong (“Like You Know It All,” “Woman on the Beach”), “Hahaha” turns on a film director and critic who recount anecdotes about their separate visits to the seaside town of Tong-yeong.

The Un Certain Regard Jury Prize went to “Octubre” (October) from Peru’s Daniel and Diego Vega. “October” records how a commitment-wary pawnbroker’s life is turned upside-down – and all for the better – when he is forced to look after a baby.

Doggedly drab in setting and deadpan in humor – recalling Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll’s “Whisky” – “October” built genuine buzz at Cannes, playing to an expectant crowd Saturday at its final screening.

Headed by Gallic helmer-scribe Claire Denis, the Un Certain Regard jury awarded acting kudos to Adela Sanchez, Eva Blanco and Victoria Raposo, the three actresses of another directorial two-hander, Ivan Fund and Santiago Loza’s Argentine feature “Los labios” (The Lips).

2010’s Un Certain Regard winners underscore just how challenged art pic production has become for some directors in many parts of the world: “Hahaha” was made on $100,000, “Lips” was so micro-budgeted it didn’t have a formal production house.

Though “Hahaha” won top honors, Un Certain Regard plaudits this year could have gone to many Un Certain Regard entries: Around half its 19 titles played to at least generally upbeat critical reactions.

“Being sure that you can put prestigious filmmakers in Un Certain Regard whom you are hesitating about putting in Competition makes selection easier,” Cannes general delegate Thierry Fremaux told Daily Variety Saturday.

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