Make your way to the southern port city of Busan for the 14th Pusan International Film Festival (Oct. 8 – 16).
It will be held on the biggest scale ever this year, featuring 355 films from 70 nations. With a budget expansion of nearly one billion won bringing the total up to 9.95 billion, the coast is clear for Korea's largest film festival to sail into harbor early next month.
The opener for this year is the Korean film "Good Morning President
", an abridged version of the politics and lives of three different presidents, directed by Jang Jin
and starring Korea's major heartthrob Jang Dong-gun
and two veteran actors Lee Soon-jae
and Goh Doo-shim. It's been three years since Busan selected a local film for its curtain raiser.
The closing film is "The Message" by Gao Qunshu and Chen Kuo-fu, and is a spy thriller movie set in China in 1942 during the war against Japan. It stars Zhou Xun, Lee Bingbing, Zhang Hanyu and Huang Xiaoming.
Some Korean films that are yet to hit local theaters will have their premieres in Busan at Korean Cinema Today. This section alone, divided into "Panorama" and "Vision" will introduce seven local films that will be shown for the first time.
Some local independent films will also show up in other categories, notably director Park Chan-ok
's long-awaited follow-up to "Jealousy Is My Middle Name
, which will be screened in the New Currents section. The festival will also screen a 10-minute longer version of the film "Thirst"
by Park Chan-wook
that won a jury prize in Cannes Film Festival early this year.
Two Korean filmmakers will be highlighted for this year's Korean Film Retrospectives – director Ha Kil-chong, who celebrates 30 years in film, and director Yu Hyun-mok, who passed away last June.
A local horror flick "Sorum
" (2001) will be screened to honor the memory of actress Jang Jin-yeong
. Her untimely death due to cancer surprised the country early this month.
Another big change for this year is the Flash Forward section, which is made to unearth new talents from outside Asia. Starting from this year, this section will also become a competitive section "in order to incite further artistic discovery and to expand PIFF inside and out" with prize money of $20,000. Some of the best recent films from Tajikistan and Africa will be introduced for the first time.
Bryan Singer, the director of "Usual Suspects" (1995) and "X-Men" (2000) will come to Busan as the producer of an American thriller called "Trick'r Treat" directed by Michael Dougherty. The film will be shown in the Midnight Passion section.
Josh Hartnett will also be stepping on the red carpet in Busan, together with Japan's most popular actor Takuya Kimura
. The two, together with Korean actor Lee Byeong-Heon
, starred in "I Come with the Rain" (2008) by Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung, which will be shown at the gala presentation.
Hartnett plays a young ex-cop, Kimura as a mysterious victim and Lee as the kingpin of the Hong Kong mafia. Lee himself will appear at the event, together with Korean celebrities like Im Soo-jung, who starred in the Thai short film "Phuket". That last film is directed by Aditya Assarat, and depicts an actress who comes to Phuket and discovers a different side of the island.
French film director Jean-Jacques Beineix, famous for his "Betty Blue" (1986), and Italian film director Dario Argento, referred to as the master of horror films, will serve as jurors for the festival.
Japanese actor Koji Yakusho, whose film "Shall We Dance" (1996) delighted audiences worldwide and was remade in Hollywood, will attend the festival as director of "Toad's Oil". One of the stars of this year's "Terminator Salvation", Korean-American actress Moon Bloodgood, will also join the fun in the port city.
This year's Special Programs in Focus section is dedicated to director Johnnie To of Hong Kong. To is another great maestro of Asian film, who struggled to revive the battered film industry of Hong Kong during the 1990s. The Pusan International Film Festival will screen some of this best works such as "Exiled", "Election" and "Vengeance" classic gangster action noir films.
Films for recommendation
Some of the local films recommended by experts are "The Fair Love
" by Shin Yeon-shick
, portraying the love between a 50-year old bachelor and his daughter's friend; "I'm in Trouble!
" by So Sang-min
, which tells of a perplexing love relationship; "Tokyo Taxi
" by Kim Tae-sik
about a singer with aeronausiphobia (a fear of airsickness) taking a taxi from Seoul to Tokyo; and "Wish"
by Lee Seong-han
, which highlights the prevalence of violence in society through the experience of a teenage boy.
A window on Asian Cinema has "Prince of Tears" by director Yonfan. It portrays Taiwan in the 1950s during the anti-communism campaign. There is also "Karat 14" by director Parviz Shahbazi from Iran, showing how anxiety can ruin one's life; "Judge" by Liu Jie, which shows the dignity of human life through a prisoner who donates kidneys to save the life of another.
Then there's "Angel at Sea" directed by Frederic Dumont, which won the Grand Prix at the Karlovy Vary film festival; "Lebanon" by Israeli Samuel Maoz, which won a Golden Lion in Venice and "The Time That Remains" by Elia Suleiman. Also, don't miss the all-time classic "Z" by Costa Gavras about the political assassination of Gregoris Lambrakis.
Online ticket reservations started on Monday Sep. 21. Make sure to watch out for pop-ups that constantly inform of any changes in the schedule and reservations.
For more information visit the website (Open the link
) or contact +82-1688-3010 (Korean, English).
By Kim Hee-sung
Korea.net Staff Writer