Korean World Premieres at PIFF 2008

The Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF) is putting its weight behind local films this year, and, under the catch-phrase 'Way to Go, Korea!' will host the World Premier of 15 Korean features. Headlining is closing film "I Am Happy" by Yoon Jong-chan, a psychiatric drama based on a novel by Korean literary giant, the late LEE Chong-jun. The fest runs Oct 2 10 in the south-eastern port city of Busan.

PIFF's competition section, New Currents, will see the World Premieres of 3 Korean features. "Land of Scarecrows" is the sophomore effort by Noh Kyeong-tae ("The Last Dining Table"), a poetical cross-section of the lives of Korea's outsiders in pursuit of vanishing dreams. "Members of the Funeral" by Baek Seung-bin is an HD feature about a family mourning the passing of relative and the memories it triggers, while Kim Tae-gon's "The Pot" focuses on the uncanny happenings surrounding a small family in their new apartment.

In the Korean Cinema Today Panorama section are several anticipated features, including offbeat comedy "Crush and Blush", the feature debut by Lee Kyoung-mi, assistant director to Park Chan-wook. The film is PARK' s first producing effort and centers on the awkward behavior of a jealous school teacher for her married colleague.

Indie-auteur Jeon Soo-il is back with a drama set mainly in Nepal, called "Himalaya, Where the Wind Dwells", starring top thespian Choi Min-sik.

Other films making their world premiere in this section are "Heartbreak Library", an erotic thriller by Kim Jeong-kwon, "Sisters on the Road", by Boo Ji-young, a drama following the journey of two half-sisters after their mother's funeral, and Kim Jeong-joong's "Oishi Man", about a singer going deaf who travels to Hokkaido to rest.

Accompanying Panorama is the Vision section with several debut selections including PIFF returnee Ahn Seul-gi's third feature, "How to Live on Earth", a B-movie send up about the marital troubles of a top spy and her bookish husband, a poet. Also on the program are the autobiographical drama, "Breathless" by Yang Ik-june, "The Pit and The Pendulum", a labyrinth of memories induced by a funeral gathering by Sohn Young-sung, street-drama "Exhausted" by Kim Gok, "Let the Blue River Run" by Kang Mi-ja, "The Room Nearby" by Goh Tae-jeong, and horror triptych "Evil Spirit ; VIY" by Jinsung Park.

In addition, a Gala presentation will be given to Korean-American director SOHN Soopum's "Make Yourself At Home", psychological drama about a newlywed Korean couple, set in New Jersey. It stars popular actress Song Hye-kyo in her US debut.

Nigel D'Sa