Berlin Festival: Hong Sang Soo’s ‘In Water’ Picked up by Finecut

Finecut, the leading Korean independent film sales agent, is to represent international rights on “In Water,” the latest film by auteur Hong Sang-soo.

The film will have its world premiere in Berlin as part of the festival’s Encounters section. Its sales launch is set for the accompanying European Film Market.

This follows three successive years in which Hong has appeared in Berlin’s main competition, with: “The Woman Who Ran,” which earned Berlin’s silver bear for best director; 2021 title “Introduction” which won another silver bear, for best screenplay, at that year’s delayed festival; and “The Novelist’s Film” which won a Grand Jury Prize in 2022.

Hong, who works on low budgets, controls much of the production process and makes repeated use of a small pool of actors, is one of the most prolific feature directors in the world. In addition to the four recent Berlin titles, his “In Front of Your Face” played in competition in the July 2021 edition of the Cannes festival.

His films are known for their minimalist style, a focus on female characters, serial chance encounters and oblique references to the media industry.

Weighing in at a slender 61 minutes, “In Water” involves a young man who previously focused on acting but suddenly decides to test his creativity by directing a short film with his own money. Together with two former classmates, he arrives on a large island known for its rocks and wind. Not sure what he wants to shoot, the young man goes out wandering for a day. Then, on the coast he sees a woman picking up trash on her own. Impressed by her volunteer effort, they have a short conversation, and the man is able to create a story.

The film stars Kim Seungyun (“Somewhwere In Between,” “Lucky Chan-sil”) and two regulars from Hong’s stable: Shin Seokho (“Walk Up,” “In Front of Your Face,” “Introduction”); and Ha Seongguk (“No Surprise,” “The Novelist’s Film,” “In Front of Your Face,” “Introduction”).

At the EFM, Finecut will also be continuing sales on a raft of relatively recent slate additions, including four picked up ahead of the Busan festival and market.

These include: a Korean adaptation of the Herman Koch novel “The Dinner,” since retitled as “A Normal Family,” which is currently in post-production; fantasy-romance “Secret: Untold Melody”; and “Brave Citizen,” a live-action webtoon adaptation about a female former boxer who fights injustice after a career move into teaching.

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