CANNES, France – Asia's dark and disturbing movies scooped Cannes kudos on Sunday, with awards for cult directors from China and Korea, as well as controversial Filipino auteur Brillante Mendoza.
At Cannes with a blood-and-gore tale about vampire love titled "Thirst", South Korea's Park Chan-wook jointly won the festival's Jury Prize, taking home his second trophy from the festival after "Old Boy" in 2004.
A torrid and unexpectedly graphic gay love movie from China, "Spring Fever", won best screenplay for outlawed director Lou Ye.
And Mendoza, one of the most divisive directors at the 12-day movie bonanza, got the best director prize for a gritty look at violence in "Kinatay", which means massacre and shows the slow butchering of a prostitute into pieces with blunt kitchen knives.
"I know opinions are divided on my movies," Mendoza said after picking up his prize. "I was expecting it."
Mendoza faced a barrage of criticism from some quarters at Cannes at his first showing last year with "Serbis", which was set in a Manila porn-theatre with long close-ups of festering boils and overflowing toilets.
Both films background Manila's poor, with "Kinatay" chronicling a day in the life of a young police officer that begins with his wedding and closes with his involvement in the rape, murder and hacking into pieces of a prostitute.
"This is not just entertainment, these kinds of stories are real," Mendoza said.
Park's priest-turned-vampire suffers cruelly in the movie, from inner demons and physical ills, but picking up his award at the red-carpet ceremony the film-maker in contrast said:
"I think I still have a long way to go to be a true artist because I still don't know about the pain of creation. I only know about the joy of creation."
Park, who describes his rivers-of-blood tale as a "scandalous vampire melodrama," shows a good-Samaritan priest caught in an ethical quagmire after being turned into a vampire by a mysterious blood transfusion.
Lusting not only after blood but after a childhood friend's wife -- who turns into a vampire too -- the priest is drawn into crime while seeking redemption as he soars through windows to rooftops in search of life-saving blood supplies.
On a different note, outlawed China film-maker Lou said the Cannes award could contribute to greater freedom for cinema in China.
"I hope young directors will be free and will be independent enough to make their films," he said after scooping the prize.
Lou shot his movie in secret over two months in Nanjing city after censors slapped a five-year ban on him in 2006 for bringing "Summer Palace" to Cannes that year without official approval.
The point of "Spring Fever" was to portray individual emotions rather than social problems, he told AFP this week.
"The individual is more important than the group, but the last time the Chinese talked about individuals was back in the 1920s," he said.