9. Arirang

Director: Kim Ki-duk

By now, Kim Ki-duk is not only the poster child of Korea’s art-house cinema—he’s also the don. For his sixteenth film, instead of uncovering rigid family values or wretched societal views on women, Ki-duk turns the camera on himself, and the first-person approach comes across astutely. Kim shoots monologues in tight close-ups, as if he sincerely wants to explain to his audience portions of himself he’s not yet able to express otherwise.

One of the film’s highlights is when Kim offers his own soundtrack by consistently singing or wailing the Korean folk song “Arirang” in multiple pitches. Ki-duk, whose previous films actually divided Korean critics, makes no mystery about his national pride here.