By Kim Tae-jong
Fireworks light up the night sky during the opening ceremony of the 11th Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF) at the Yachting Center in Haeundae, southeastern port city of Pusan, Thursday. More than 6,000 festivalgoers and celebrities packed the venue. The nine-day festival will present 245 films from 63 countries. /Yonhap
PUSAN _ The nation's biggest port city heated up once again yesterday as thousands of festivalgoers celebrated the beginning of the 11th Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF).
In a gala opening ceremony at the Yachting Center in Haeundae, all 5,000 seats were filled with movie fans, and some 1,000 journalists from home and abroad were busy covering the biggest film event in Asia. The overcast skies that the North Korean nuclear crisis cast on the Korean Peninsula were absent here.
When about 150 local film stars stepped onto the red carpet leading to the outdoor stage, the area surrounding the venue was filled with the joyful cries of fans and flash lights.
Some of the celebrities at the event were Lee Byung-hun
, Soo Ae
, Andy Lau
, Moon So-ri
, Jung Woo-sung
, Kim Tae-hee
, Daniel Henney
, Park Yong-woo
, Lee Joon-gi
, Park Joong-hoon
and Uhm Jung-hwa
At the main ceremony, hosted by actors Ahn Sung-ki
and Moon Geun-young
, the festival chairman and Pusan City Mayor Hur Nam-sik declared the official opening of the festival.
"Thanks to all your support and affection toward the festival in the last 10 years, PIFF has now become an internationally important movie festival. And now, in hope of your continuous support, we will set sail for another 10 years successful voyage, expecting Pusan to become a Mecca of the motion picture industry", Hur said.
After Hur's speech, to create more festive mood, traditional music orchestra Chondungsori gave a celebration performance, and a firework lit up the autumn sky.
The finale of the ceremony was devoted to director Kim Dae-seung
's melodrama "Trace of Love
Starring veteran actors Yoo Ji-tae
, Kim Ji-soo
and Uhm Ji-won
, the film was inspired by a real disaster _ the collapse of Sampung Department Store in Seoul in 1995, which claimed more than 500 lives. It portrays a man who loses his girlfriend in the accident and struggles to deal with the painful memory.
"This is my third film. So it is truly an honor for my work to open the established festival", Kim said during the ceremony along with the three main actors.
In his speech, Kim also expressed his political stance on the reduction of the screen quota, which long protected local films.
"I'm honored now, but on the other hand, I'm sad that the screen quota has been halved. I hope the festival can be a starting point to make an effort for the protection of cultural diversity", Kim said.
The main actors expressed their gratitude that their film was chosen as the opening film of the festival.
"I am now overwhelmed by the audience here. This is a special moment for me", Yoo said. "In the early years of the festival, I came here as a student. I spent the whole day watching movies, and at night, I drank with friends talking about movies. I hope all the people enjoy their voyage to the world of cinema here".
Beginning tomorrow, the festival presents a total of 245 films from 63 countries in 10 sections. "Crazy Stone" by Chinese director Ning Hao will conclude this year's event on Oct. 20.