Cannes 2016 in Competition: “The Wailing” Opens in U.S. June 3

Posted by Sydney J. Levine

From the acclaimed director Na Hong-Jin and starring Hwang Jung-Min, Chun Woo-Hee and Kwak Do-Won, this film was in Cannes Film Festival where critics praised it. Over six years in the making, this is the follow-up to the globally acclaimed “The Yellow Sea” And “The Chaser” and is his third film to premiere at the Festival de Cannes. It smashed box office records upon its debut in South Korea (20th Century Fox distributed it there and coproduced with Side Mirror of So. Korea), where fans are already making return viewings to catch new clues and debate it. It premiered in L.A. May 20 at the exclusive So. Korean cinema in Koreatown, CGV Theater, owned by CJ Entertainment.

In this supernatural thriller, a foreigner’s mysterious appearance in a quiet, rural village causes suspicion among the locals -- suspicion which quickly turns to hysteria as the townspeople begin killing each other in brutal outbursts for seemingly no reason.

See the trailer here.

Women are the key to “The Wailing” but never are they given their due. They play the intermediaries between the all too human and bumbling male cops and the feuding devils whose pawns the men are in the games of life and death which they play between themselves.

Was she raped or is she a devil? Played by Woo-hee CHUN

Marvelous acting by Hwang Jung-Min, the one left wailing, a cop, a fornicator (once anyway) and a father who loves his daughter more than he loves life itself. When he asks why his daughter was taken, the answer is given that she just happened to be there at that moment. At another encounter with these ghostly devils, he is told that all that is happening is because of his sins. But how has he really sinned? In humping a tempstress? It is the temptress that holds the key to the two other antagonists in this film, “The Jap” as they call him, and …well…I can’t give away the story.

The policeman’s mother lives with his wife and their daughter. Both mother and wife play mostly silent characters, until his mother informs him that she is hiring a shaman to cure the daughter who seems to be possessed. The second time she states this, he agrees. But he is not able to allow the shaman to finish and so the child is still possessed and the story continues…with the situation escalating into something far more dangerous.

Haunting ghosts and ghoulish zombies also mix with the people in this small town in So. Korea wreaking havoc. And what about that rash that breaks out on those who are possessed? Watch this film, and think on the woman who in the end is left knowing the truth and yet unbelieved, disregarded and sad.


Running time 156 minutes.

International sales: Finecut

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About Sydney Levine

Sydney Levine is an executive of longstanding in the international film business. She is a writer of the popular blog on international film business, SydneysBuzz which also has run on Indiewire, IMDbPro and IMDb since 2008 when Amazon acquired her twenty-five year old company FilmFinders. In 1988 Sydney created FilmFinders, the industry’s first database of worldwide features used by distributors, sales agents and festival programmers acquiring features. It became industry standard for organizing and tracking the rights-buying activities of the film business and was adopted by the Cannes Marché and developed into what today is called She and her partner, Peter Belsito continue to provide consulting and strategic planning for producers, national film organizations and other educational initiatives in international film business at Cannes, Toronto, Sundance, Germany's Deutsche Welle Akademie, Talents in Berlin, Sarajevo, and Guadalajara, EICTV the international film school in Los Banos, Cuba, Chapman University, UCLA Extension, Vilnius University, et. al. She organizes, moderates and participates in panel discussions on the international film business, as well as producing white paper research and reports on Sydney works with the markets in Cannes and Berlin in administering buyers’ data for North America, Latin America and Asia and gives tours of the market to newcomers. She opens the Cannes Shorts Corner with a presentation on The International Film Circuit for shorts. She has currently completed a book about Latin American Film Financing published in Spanish by the Guadalajara University Press. The English version on the Iberoamerican Film Business will be published in the fall of 2016.


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