South Korean actor Song Kang-ho has been chosen to receive the Excellence Award at this year's Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland, the organisers said on Thursday (May 16).
52 year-old-Song, one of Korea's most prolific actors, is the first Asian to win the prestigious international award.
Launched in 2004, the Swiss film fest's special award goes to actors or actresses whose work and talent have contributed to enriching the industry.
Internationally acclaimed sliver-screen stars like Susan Sarandon, John Malkovich, Edward Norton, Ethan Hawke, Juliette Binoche and Bill Pullman are amongst the past laureates.
"The Locarno Film Festival's Excellence Award goes to actors who have followed significant, courageous paths," Lili Hinstin, artistic director of the 72nd Locarno Film Festival said in the festival's press release. "Thus far the recipients have all been American or European, but for me it was important to open up this prize to the Asian cinema."
Hinstin described Song as the “peerless interpreter of the variety and intensity of emotions generated by Korean cinema,” emphasising the diversity of his work and his continuous collaboration with Korean big-name directors such as Bong Joon-ho, Park Chan-wook and Kim Jee-woon.
Song, according to the statement, has since “never stopped experimenting”.
Making his cinema debut with "The Day a Pig Fell into the Well" in 1996, the actor rose to international stardom with a series of critically acclaimed works and box-office hits including Park’s Joint Security Area (2000), Sympathy for Mr Vengeance (2002) and Thirst (2009), as well as Bong’s Memories of Murder (2003), The Host (2006) and Snowpiercer (2013).
Song will hitting the Cannes Film Festival’s red carpet next week with the Palme d'Or-nominated Parasite, also directed by Bong.
He will receive the award on Aug 12 in Locarno’s Piazza Grande. He will also be holding a panel discussion the next day.
The 72nd edition of Locarno Film Festival runs from August 7-17.