BUSAN - This year's Pusan International Film Festival ends its seven-day run today, but the festivities seem to be continuing.
In its 10th year, the festival has been hailed as a commercial success, selling out 112 out of a total 307 presented films as of yesterday. A total audience of 170,300, tallied until Monday, already surpassed last year's total audience of 166,000.
However, what impresses renowned film industry people about the festival is not the commercial side of its success. Talking to The Korea Herald one after another, they almost unanimously spoke highly of the public-oriented aspect of the festival, more than anything else.
"I could feel human warmth from the festival. Cannes is more for professional film people, while PIFF attracts many highly reactive young movie goers", Thierry Fremaux, artistic director of the Cannes Film Festival, said. "The festival is giving birth to both eggs and hens".
Noah Cowan, co-director of the Toronto Film Festival, said that the passionate young moviegoers at PIFF is the key factor, for which other world leading film festivals envy the Korean film festival. "Those who come to see art films during the Toronto festival are mostly in their 40s and 50s", Cowan said. "Some people seem to worry about it getting too youth-oriented, but I think it's all right. After all, they are the ones who will have grown up to be key supporters of the festival in the future".
Piers Handling, the other co-director of the Toronto Film Festival, also agreed that PIFF is going in the right direction. "It doesn't try to imitate film festivals of Hong Kong or Tokyo, but has positioned itself uniquely in the film world", he said.
According to Handling, few paid attention to Korean films in the Toronto festival until two to three years ago. "Now Korean films' popularity is ever-growing there, as Korean filmmakers like Im Kwon-taek
and Park Chan-wook
are getting international recognition", the Canadian director said.
Sundance Film Festival director Geoffrey Gilmore said that there is something special about PIFF that brings him back again and again despite his extremely tight schedule. "The biggest return I got from last year's festival was director Lee Yoon-ki
's 'The Charming Girl', which I invited for this year's Sundance Film Festival", Gilmore, the director of the world renowned Independent Feature Film Competition, said. "I'm here again to find more talented Asian filmmakers".
The leading figures of the international film industry also provided a few pieces of advice for the festival and Korean films in general.
"Korean filmmakers have to focus more on creative storytelling to make their works popular in America", Gilmore said. "Recent Asian films tend to go for minimal storyline, but creative storytelling as the key channel of communication with foreign audiences is important".
Mentioning the exceptionally high market share of Korean movies in the local film market, he said it is good but not necessarily great. "Such a market environment can provide a stable base for the growth of the industry, but if overly protected, it could result in adverse effects".
About the newly launched film market of the festival, Cowan snapped that it's an "old idea". There is no official market at the Toronto Film Festival, and buyers, instead, see films from the audiences' point of view and make contact for sales meeting afterward. "Such festivals should be about seeing films, rather than business meetings", the director said.
Fremaux, the director of the film festival with the biggest market, on the other hand, said that he is with PIFF about the market. "Launching of the new market shows how the festival has commercially grown up", Fremaux said.
PIFF has generally attracted more European films than American films. "My only complaint about the festival is that I can't see American independent films here", the Sundance festival director said.
The 10th Pusan International Film Festival will have its grand finale in Busan tonight with various events. For more information about the festival, call (051) 747-8591 or go Open the link
By Lee Yong-sung