The Pusan International Film Festival will kick off its much-touted nine-day run Thursday, featuring 266 films from 63 countries - the most in the festival's nine-year history.
Organizers said they have put much emphasis on the diversity in international cinema, screening more works from Africa, Latin America and other regions, though its perennial focus on Asian films will remain intact.
"More countries will be represented at this year's Pusan Film Festival in a way to make the event more enjoyable for movie lovers", said Kim Dong-ho
, director of the PIFF.
The festival, to be held Thursday through Oct. 15 in the southeastern port city of Busan, will open with a reworked version of "2046" by China's much-admired director Wong Kar Wai.
Scenes from select works at the 9th Pusan International Film Festival
The film weaves a sensual and mysterious story about a writer working on a science fiction novel. It was screened at the Cannes in May this year, and supposedly a sequel to critically acclaimed "In the Mood for Love" (2000).
After the Cannes screening, Wong saw the work as unfinished and shot additional scenes with his crew and cast. Starring Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi
and Maggie Cheung, the new version of "2046" will make its international premiere at the PIFF.
Closing the event will be "The Scarlet Letter"
, a local film by Daniel Byun. Followed by his feature directorial debut "Interview"
in 2000, the new film is expected to appeal to both the public and critics considering its delicate camera work, mature performance of actors and a well-refined plot.
The romantic thriller, borrowing its title from Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic novel, features Han Suk-kyu, star of "Shiri
" and "Christmas in August
" and also stars a trio of popular actresses - Lee Eun-joo
, Sung Hyun-ah and Um Ji-won.
The PIFF will be the venue in which 39 films make their world premiere, reflecting the film fest's increasing influence in the cinema world. With 16 films as international premiers (shown for the first time outside the country of origin), and 50 Asia premiers, the PIFF hopes it will attract attention from film industry insiders seeking quality works.
The PIFF has nine sections: 46 films for "A Window on Asian Cinema", 12 films from eight countries for "New Currents", 13 films for "Korean Panorama", 51 films from 42 countries for "World Cinema", 74 movies from 28 countries for "Wide Angle", seven films for "Open Cinema" and 10 films for "Critics' Choice".
Eight will compete to be in the New Currents section, where works by young and up-and-coming Asian filmmakers are presented. Their works are largely restricted by low budgets and yet offer a fresh mode of filmmaking and their artistic potential and visions.
A Window on Asian Cinema section will have a large selection of films from Southeast Asia. Indonesia especially is drawing attention, and the festival will duly hold a special section on contemporary Indonesian cinema this year.
Some of the notable films in the section include "Woman of Breakwater" by Mario O'Hara of the Philippines, "Buffalo Boy" by Nguyen-vo Minh of Vietnam and "Earth and Ashes" by Atiq Rahimi of Afghanistan.
The section will also reflect the current trends in the region: China has unbarred its gates to the film industry, India's filmmaking industry is flourishing and Japan is nurturing independent films.
The World Cinema section, meanwhile, features some of the well-known veteran filmmakers like Jean-Luc Godard's "Our Music" and Emir Kusturica's "Life is a Miracle" as well as works by promising young directors such as Hu Fow Pyng's "Paradise Girls".
As in previous years, World Cinema will also offer a chance to check out award-winning films from around the world: the French film "Exiles", which gave Tony Gatlif the director's prize at this year's Cannes, and "The Return" by Russian filmmaker Andrei Zvyagintsev, who won the Golden Lion at Venice last year.
In a special retrospective section, 12 works by the acclaimed Greek director Theo Angelopoulos will be presented. In addition, seminars and classes are arranged for sharing the virtuoso director's insight and passion. Angelopoulos is the honoree of hand-printing this year.
The Korean Cinema Retrospective section takes a new direction by presenting some of the better-known films co-produced by Korean and Hong Kong filmmakers between the late 1950s and the early 1980s.
The Korean Panorama section will present a wide range of domestic films from the nation's leading filmmakers including Kim Ki-duk
, winner of director's prizes at Berlin and Venice this year. Other directors include Im Kwon-taek
, Hong Sang-soo
, Choi Dong-hun and Kong Soo-chang
Tickets to regular screenings are 5,000 won each with the opening and closing films priced at 10,000 won. For further information, call (02) 3675-5097 or visit its Web site at www.piff.org.
By Yang Sung-jin