Hong's 'In Water' invited to Berlin Film Festival's Encounters selection

Hong Sang-soo, left, and actor Kim Min-hee pose with the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize for the film ″The Novelist's Film″ (2022) after the awarding ceremony at the International Film Festival Berlin in Berlin, Germany on Feb. 16, 2022. [AP

Hong Sang-soo's "In Water" (2023) has been invited to the 73rd Berlin Film Festival's Encounters selection, the auteur's fourth consecutive time to be recognized by the German film festival.

The Encounters section was established last year to introduce documentaries and fiction works that are out of the norm and challenge conventional categories. Sixteen films have been invited to this year's Encounters selection, including "In Water," 18 films in the International Competition Lineup and one film for the Berlinale Special Gala, "Superpower" by Sean Penn and Aaron Kaufman.

"Hong Sang-soo needs no introduction," Berlinale artistic director Carlo Chatrian said in a press conference held on Monday, which was livestreamed on YouTube.

"Every new film, even if we know what it will be about, managed to surprise us and enchant us. This time with 'Mul-an-e-seo [In Water],' he did it in a minimal as usual but even stronger way starting with the idea of blurring images."

Not much has been revealed about the film except that it was directed by Hong and the executive producer was Kim Min-hee, the actor.

The film, the 29th long-form feature by Hong, will be premiered for the first time during the Berlin Film Festival, set to take place from Feb. 16 to 26. It will hit local theaters in the first half of this year, according to distributor Jeonwonsa Film.

This is the sixth time for Hong to compete at the Berlinale since taking his first step in 2008 with “Night and Day” (2008). Four films — "On the Beach at Night Alone" (2017), “The Woman who Ran” (2020), "Introduction" (2021) and "The Novelist's Film" (2022) — received the Silver Bear awards.

Two more films have been helmed by directors of Korean descent have been named in the lineup: "The Shadowless Tower” by Zhang Lu, a third-generation Korean-Chinese filmmaker, and "Past Lives" by Korean-Canadian director Celine Song.

"Past Lives," led by actors Yoo Teo and Greta Lee, was debuted at the Sundance Film Festival 2023, which took place on Saturday at Utah, United States.

International Competition Lineup

“20,000 Species of Bees” by Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren (Spain)

“The Shadowless Tower” by Zhang Lu (China)

“Till the End of the Night” by Christoph Hochhausler (Germany)

“BlackBerry” by Matt Johnson (Canada)

“Disco Boy” by Giacomo Abbruzzese (France/Italy/Poland/Belgium)

“The Plough” by Philippe Garrel (France/Switzerland)

“Ingeborg Bachmann – Journey into the Desert” by Margarethe von Trotta (Germany/Switzerland/Austria/Luxembourg)

“Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything” by Emily Atef (Germany)

“Limbo” by Ivan Sen (Australia)

“Bad Living” by Joao Canijo (Portugal/France)

“Manodrome” by John Trengove (U.K./U.S.)

“Music” by Angela Schanelec (Germany/France/Serbia)

“Past Lives” by Celine Song (U.S.)

“Afire” by Christian Petzold (Germany)

“On the Adamant” by Nicolas Philibert (France/Japan)

“The Survival of Kindness” by Rolf de Heer (Australia)

“Suzume” by Makoto Shinkai (Japan)

“Totem” by Lila Ayles (Mexico/Denmark/France)

Berlinale Special Gala

“Superpower” by Sean Penn, Aaron Kaufman (U.S.)

Encounters Films

“The Klezmer Project” by Leandro Koch, Paloma Schahmann (Argentina/Austria)

“The Adults” by Dustin Guy Defa (U.S.)

“The Echo” by Tatiana Huezo (Mexico/Germany)

“Here” by Bas Devos (Belgium)

“In the Blind Spot” by Ayse Polat (Germany)

“The Cage is Looking for a Bird” by Malika Musaeva (France/Russia)

“My Worst Enemy” by Mehran Tamadon (France/Switzerland)

“White Plastic Sky” by Tibor Banoczki, Sarolta Szabo (Hungary/Slovakia)

“In Water” by Hong Sangsoo (South Korea)

“Family Time” by Tia Kuovo (Finland/Sweden)

“The Walls of Bergamo” by Stefano Savona (Italy)

“Orlando, My Political Biography” by Paul B. Preciado (France)

“Samsara” by Lois Patino (Spain)

“Eastern Front” by Vitaly Mansky, Yevhen Titarenko (Latvia/Czechia/Ukraine/U.S.)

“Living Bad” by Joao Canijo (Portugal/France)

“Absence” by Wu Lang (China)