By Lee Hyo-won
BUSAN _ The 13th Pusan (Busan) International Film Festival (PIFF) kicked off Thursday evening with the world premiere of "The Gift to Stalin" in this southern port city. It is Asia's largest cinema event, featuring a record number of 315 films from 60 countries including 85 world premieres over the nine-day run until Oct. 10.
While news of the death of top star Choi Jin-sil
Thursday morning had many of the local press flocking back to Seoul, the ceremony at the Suyoung Bay Yacht Marina was well spotlighted as 100 or so top stars from near and far appeared on the red carpet. Festival director Kim Dong-ho
expressed grief for Choi's death with festivalgoers.
The festive mood reached its full height nevertheless. With tasteful tungsten-hued lights and Latin music, the event took place under pleasant autumn weather conditions_ unlike last year, when rain and the "political" postponement by the sudden appearance of presidential candidates muddled the show.
Actors Jung Jin-young
, who starred in the record-breaking film "The King and the Clown
" and most recently "Sunny"
, and Kim Jung-eun
, heroine of the 2007 hit "Forever the Moment
", hosted the event. Korean soprano Shin Young-ok, a regular at the New York Metropolitan Opera, graced the stage with "Nella Fantasia" from the movie soundtrack of "Mission" and "Habanera" from the opera "Carmen".
In attendance were Culture Minister Yu In-chon; Ko Heungil, head of the National Assembly's Culture, Sports, Tourism, Broadcasting and Communication Committee; Busan Mayor/PIFF festival chairman Hur Nam-sik and several members of the International Olympics Committee who were in town for the 4th Busan TAFISA World Sport for All Games.
The screening of "The Gift to Stalin" by Rustem Adbrashev wrapped up the festivity. This is the first time for a small film from Kazakhstan to open PIFF, and what had been considered an "experimental" choice on the part of organizers proved to be a success as it set a new online sellout record of 90 seconds. The newly inserted system of allotting on-the-site reservations for those aged 50-plus and not Internet-savvy was also helpful to some, though PIFF needs to promote it better in future festivals.
In addition to online (Open the link
) and offline ticket booths (host movie theaters, Bank of Busan, nationwide GS25 convenience store ATMs), PIFF offers a mobile service, "Mobile PIFF", which enables users to make ticket reservations and festival updates in real time.
PIFF closes Oct. 10 with the premiere of the South Korean film "I Am Happy"
. Directed by Yoon Jong-chan
, it is about a dejected patient (hallyu star Hyun Bin
) and heartbroken nurse (actress Lee Bo-young
) who meet in a psychiatric ward.
Visit Open the link
(Korean and English).