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Isabelle Huppert-Starring Berlin Competition Film ‘A Traveler’s Needs’ Picked Up by Finecut

Leading Korean rights sales firm Finecut is to handle the international distribution of “A Traveler’s Needs,” which on Monday was confirmed as debuting in the main competition section of next month’s Berlinale. Remarkably, it is director Hong Sang-soo’s sixth selection for Berlin since 2020.

The picture is also the third time that French acting icon Isabelle Huppert stars in a film by the Korean veteran director, following their previous joint efforts “Claire’s Camera” and “In Another Country.”

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A synopsis provided reads: “She came from France. She was playing a child’s recorder in a park. With no means of supporting herself she was advised to teach French. She became a teacher to two women. She likes to lie down on rocks and rely on makkeolli [Korean rice wine] for comfort.” Dialog is a mix of Korean, English and French.

Hong is known for his micro-budget, minimalist drama films that are long on conversation, chance encounters and female protagonists. He also likes to work with a tight-knit circle of actors.

Aside from Huppert, “A Traveler’s Needs” also features Lee Hyeyoung and Kwon Haehyo, who both previously appeared in Hong’s “Walk Up,” “The Novelist’s Film” and “In Front of Your Face.”

Last year, Hong’s “In Water” played in Berlin’s Encounters section. That followed 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.

“I am happy to close this presentation with a filmmaker that is not only a recurring presence in our selection, but represents the quintessential of a way of making films that oppose creativity to the diktat of the budget. Hong Sang-soo’s films may look alike only to those not curious enough to read within and between the shots of the film, a film that is building an opus that is unique in the history of cinema,” said Berlin co-chief Carlo Chatrian on Monday in Berlin. “In ‘The Traveler’s Needs’ he works for the third time with an A-level actress and shapes with her, and the rest of the amazing cast, a special comedy that is another light yet piercing take on human relationships.”

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