UNESCO's Fellini Medal awarded

26 November 2002, France

UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura earlier this week presented the organisation’s Fellini Gold Medal to Korean film director Im Kwon-Taek and French producer Pierre Rissient. Kwon-Taek, who received the award for his entire oeuvre, first worked as a repairer of soldiers’ boots, prior to entering the world of cinema on making his first film, Farewell to the Duman River (1962). Now one of Korea's best-known filmmakers, he was especially noted at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival for the film Chunhyang, which blends Western film techniques with the traditional Korean Pansori opera. According to a statement from UNESCO, Kwon-Taek’s international reputation grew in the 1980s with the help of fellow winner Rissient, who screened the Korean's work at festivals worldwide. Rissient received his medal for what is considered his exceptional contribution to the growth of world cinema – as a producer, director, distributor, talent-spotter, selector of films for festivals, adviser to top directors and a program planner. In the early 1970s, he was the first Westerner to present Asian films at Cannes, for instance. Rissient is currently producing Pathé, the latest film by New Zealander Jane Campion, who he collaborated with on her prize-winning work, The Piano, and is credited with ‘discovering’, through her short films. The celebratory evening in Paris continued following the award presentations, with a special showing of Kwon-taek's 98th film, Chihwaseon (Drunk on Women and Painting), which won him this year’s Best Director prize at Cannes.