“Heaven: To The Land Of Happiness,” directed by leading South Korean filmmaker Im Sang-soo, has been set at the opening night title of next month’s Busan International Film Festival (Oct. 6-15, 2021.)
The film was previously selected by the Cannes festival for the 2020 edition that was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The screening on native soil will therefore represent its theatrical premiere.
Structured as a road movie, “Heaven: To The Land Of Happiness” is the story of two men, one an escaped prisoner, who accidentally get their hands on a large amount of money and embark on a journey, dreaming of a comfortable ending to their lives.
Festival organizers described the film as “festive and pastoral” and said that “the harmony created from Im Sang-soo’s outstanding directorial power and excellent acting by Choi Min-sik and Park Hae-il ultimately turns the film into an inquiry about happiness that is warm and beautiful like no other.
Korean media has reported that the film was initially conceived as a remake of German drama “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” But Im deviated significantly from the original, leaving the 1997 Thomas Jahn-directed title as an inspiration rather than source material.
“Heaven: To The Land Of Happiness” also contains performances by Youn Yuh-jung, who won the Oscar earlier this year for her supporting role in ”Minari,” Cho Han-cheul, Lim Sung-jae, and Lee El.
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Im was at the forefront of the new wave of Korean filmmaking that started up in the late 1990s and has remained as one of the country’s most admired helmers. His 1998 debut film “Girls’ Night Out,” was followed in 2003 by “A Good Lawyer’s Wife.” His 2010 remake of 1960 classic “The Housemaid,” made a stylish and sexy splash in competition at Cannes. His 2012 effort “The Taste of Money” also played in competition at Cannes.