The Pusan International Film Festival from Oct. 6-14 will feature notable Asian classic movies and launch a forward-looking education program for aspiring Asian filmmakers to mark the 10th anniversary.
"This year, PIFF will make every effort to show its gratitude for Korean and Asian fans who support the film festival and focus on upgrading its status by looking back on its 10-year history", said Kim Dong-ho
, festival director, in a news conference late Tuesday in Seoul.
Back in 1996, the festival screened 170 films from 27 countries, with its focus placed on talented yet lesser known Asian directors and films. Last year, it screened 262 films from 63 countries, including more than 40 world premieres amid heightened interest toward Asian filmmakers in general and Korean movies in particular.
"It's like a miracle happening when we look at the past 10 years and how PIFF has merged as a major film festival in Asia, securing its own identity and opening up the possibility of Asian films", said An Cheong-sook, chairwoman of the Korean Film Commission.
(second from left), director of the Pusan International Film Festival, and other organizers hold a news conference in Seoul on Tuesday to explain preparations for the 10th anniversary of the event in October. [Yang Sung-jin / The Korea Herald]
To meet the surging expectation, Kim said this year will offer a host of special programs for Asia, two of which will be "Asian Pantheon" and "APEC Special Program".
The Pantheon section will present 30 Asian films from 17 countries, whose quality is excellent and yet little known outside their countries. It reflects PIFF's continued efforts to become "Hub of Asian Cinema", serving those who have interest in Asian films and their artistic value.
The relatively unknown works of Asian masters like Hou Hisen, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Chen Kaige, Imamura Shohei and Abbas Kiarostami will provide a chance for visitors to reappraise their cinematic world.
Meanwhile, the APEC Special Program will cover films from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation membership countries, a project which is coordinated in partnership with the APEC organizing committee. The APEC meeting is scheduled to be held one month after PIFF. "We will invite one film from each APEC member, and movie industry people will visit Busan to attend the event", festival director Kim said.
As part of efforts to nurture Asia's future film directors and strengthen the film festival's role as a networking venue for Asian movies, PIFF will launch the Asian Film Academy, an education program that includes workshops for film production, where students from Asia can visit PIFF and learn techniques from Asia's prominent filmmakers.
AFA organizing committee member Park Chong-ho said, "Unlike other film workshops where only people with credentials can participate, AFA will provide a channel for talented people who are yet to make a formal debut".
The academy program will be operated in partnership with the Korean Film Commission, the Korean Academy of Film Arts and Dongseo University. This year, the first workshop will be held Sept. 24-30 in Seoul and then the second session will take place Oct. 1-14 in Busan.
The program will invite five Asian filmmakers who have a close relationship with the festival from more than three Asian countries including Korea. They will offer practical tips to 20 film director wannabes and eight experienced filmmakers during the workshop period.
In addition, participants will make 15-minute short films in high-definition digital or 35mm film formats, which will be officially screened for PIFF. Candidates should apply by the end of July 31, and the screening process will be finished at the end of August.
Festival director Kim said the number of screening theaters will double to 33 and a maximum of 300,000 viewers can watch films they want. "Last year, about 83 percent of tickets were sold throughout the festival period, and yet only 160,000 people were estimated to have watched films", Kim said.
Another expansion project is Busan Multimedia Center, a 26-billion-won construction that is set to open in 2008. The complex will host six theaters, the biggest of which will accommodate 12,000 seats, and auxiliary facilities. The ground-breaking ceremony will be held during this year's PIFF, and a number of celebrities from both home and abroad are expected to join the event.
To help celebrate the 10th anniversary, the central Seoul government and Busan city pitched in an additional budget of 500 million won each, boosting the total fund for the festival to 5 billion won, Kim said.
More than 300 films from Asia and elsewhere are expected to join PIFF this year, and final entries will be announced in early September.
By Yang Sung-jin