The 11th Pusan International Film Festival will kick off its nine-day journey on Thursday amid heated enthusiasm that saw tickets for the opening film sold out in no more than two minutes and 45 seconds. A total of 245 works from 63 countries will be shown during the festival, 64 of them having their world premiere.
The opening film is the melodrama "Trace of Love"
by Kim Dae-seung
, director of "Bungee Jumping of their Own
". The film, set against the backdrop of the collapse of the Sampoong Department Store in Seoul in 1995, is the first Korean movie to open the festival since Kim Ki-duk
's "The Coast Guard
" four years ago. "Crazy Stone", a black comedy by Chinese director Ning Hao, will close the festival.
The festival has been somewhat scaled down from last year, its 10th anniversary, with 307 films from 73 nations, but the quality is as good. It is noticeably bringing leading Asian directors together, particularly from the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia, highlighting one of the PIFF's aims. Hirokazu Koreeda from Japan brings his first samurai period drama "Hana", and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, a Thai director who took the global art house scene by storm after his debut six years ago, introduces "Syndromes and a Century". From Iran, Bahman Ghobadi brings the road movie "Half Moon", from Indonesia comes Garin Nugroho's musical "Opera Jawa", and from Taiwan comes Ming-liang Tsai's "I Don't Want to Sleep Alone", which is set in Malaysia. Among interesting Korean movies is "Bound by Chastity Rule", directed by the late Shin Sang-ok
in 1962 and restored by the Koran Federation of Film Archives.
From Europe there are some films from leading directors. "Belle Toujours" by Portugal's Manoel de Oliveira is a new take on Bunuel's classic "Belle de jour". "The Caiman" by Italian director Nanni Moretti has a film director as its protagonist. "The Road to Guantanamo" by Britain's Michael Winterbottom has already won the Silver Bear for the Best Director at the Berlin International Film Festival this year.
In the "Open Cinema" category, the outdoor showing of works which is the hallmark of the festival, seven popular movies by world-famous directors will be shown. They include animation "Azur et Asmar" by Michael Ocelot, whose "Prince and Princess" received a good response in Korea, "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" by Ken Loach, which won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival, and "Paris, je t'aime", an omnibus work by 20 directors from around the world including Gus Van Sant.
Other programs cater for different tastes. "Contemporary French Auteurs" introduces 14 new French works to mark the 120 anniversary of ties between Korea and France. Animation lovers may want to keep their eyes on the "Ani Asia" program, which will show six animations from Korea, Japan, Thailand and Singapore, while "Midnight Passion" promises an unusual experience with 13 movies to be screened after midnight.
The main venue moves to Haeundae from Nampo-dong, the downtown area in Busan that has served as the center of the festival for the last decade because the PIFF has grown beyond its capacity. The fact that U.S. film magazine Variety decided to publish a newsletter for the festival from this year is additional evidence of its growing global reputation. Tickets are available at the PIFF's website ( Open the link
) and designated ticket offices -- all the branches of Busan Bank and Megabox COEX, Suwon, and Deagu.