Last week in Seoul at an unusually crowded press conference, Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF) director Kim Dong-ho
and his team, presented an impressive line-up of premieres, programs, and celebrity events, all to take place during its 11th edition which this year runs October 12 20. "We have been focusing on securing a stable ground for the festival's survival for the past 10 years, which was more successful than anyone could have expected", said Kim Dong-ho
Since its inception in 1996, PIFF has grown steadily to become the biggest and most sought-after film festival in Asia, inviting comparisons to Cannes, Venice and Toronto. After last year's 10th Anniversary celebrations, the 11th PIFF is set to expand its frontiers with the opening of the inaugural Asian Film Market, a comprehensive film industry hub that covers everything from the sales of completed films to the financing of prospective ones.
This year's festival will open with the gala premiere of Korean film "Trace of Love"
, by director Kim Dae-seung
, known for his previous hits, "Blood Rain
" and "Bungee Jumping of their Own
". Actresses Kim Ji-soo
and Uhm Ji-won
, who were present at the press conference, star alongside Yoo Ji-tae
, in a drama of loss and recovery. The film is about a lawyer whose fiance dies in the collapse of a department store, a place where he had asked her to wait for him. After working recklessly lands him in trouble, he discovers his lost love's travel diary and sets outon a journey to trace her memories.
A Chinese feature has been named closing film, a black comedy entitled Crazy Stone, by director NING Hao. The 11th PIFF will present in total 245 films from 63 countries. Of those, 64 will be World Premieres, 71 will have their Asian premiere, and 20 their international premiere. Films from Europe dominate the program at 55%, while 29% come from Asia, 10% from North America and 6% from Africa.
Like Cannes, Venice and Berlin, PIFF has a prestigious international competition section called New Currents, which awards a prize of US$30 000 to the winning director. This year the New Currents jury will be presided over by Oscar-winning Hungarian director Istvan Szabo. Also on the Jury are Cannes Grand Prize winner Bruno Dumont, producer Daniel Yu, Iranian director Abolfazl Jalili, and Korean actress Moon So-ri
. They will select the best film from among 10 new features from up-and-coming directors. Two Korean films will have their World Premieres in the competition section: "Driving With My Wife's Lover
" by Kim Tae-sik
, and "The Railroad"
by Park Heung-shik
As always, there will be a special section highlighting domestic films. Korean Cinema Today will present films under 3 headings, Panorama representing popular and artistic achievements in Korean cinema this year ("The Host"
, "The City of Violence
", "A Dirty Carnival
", "The Birth of a Family", "The King and the Clown
", "Woman on the Beach
"); Vision showcasing innovative new directors such as Sin Dong-il
("My Friend and His Wife
") and Noh Dong-seok
("Boys of Tomorrow
"); while Special Premiere will present world debut screenings such as "Gangster High
" by Park Ki-hyeong
and an uncut original version of LIm Sang-soo's 2005 film about President Park Chung-hee's assassination, "The President's Last Bang
", which had been censored for political reasons but has now been fully restored.
As part of the Korean Cinema Retrospective PIFF has also announced it will screen 7 films produced during the Japanese colonial period. It will also screen a classic Korean film that was thought long lost. "Bound By Chastity Rule" (1961), by late Korean master-director Shin Sang-ok
, was tracked down and successfully restored over the last 2 years after a 16mm print of the film was found at the Chinese Taipei Film Archive in 2004.
Before and during the festival, PIFF's Asian Film Academy (AFA) will take place, allowing up-and-coming filmmakers a chance to learn from cinematic masters. Selected students will learn the finer-points of the craft from veteran director Im Kwon-taek
, and award-winning directors Park Ki-yong
, Bae Chang-ho
, and Darezhan Omirbayev along with Japanese cinematographer TAKAMA Kenji.
Director Istvan Svabo has been named as honouree for PIFF's hand-printing ceremony, while the Asian Filmmaker of the Year Award will this year go to Andy Lau
for his acting and producing efforts. Both Szabo and Taiwanese director TSAI Ming-liang will lead Master Classes, giving lectures to the public on how they make and view cinema.
Continuing every year, are the sections Wide Angle, which presents short films from Korea and abroad, Critics Choice, which offers 12 highly regarded features as chosen by 5 top Korean film critics, A Window On Asian Cinema, your guide to recent trends and accomplishments in Asia's growing film industry, and Open Cinema, which presents 7 outdoor screenings for movie-lovers, including Cannes Palm d'Or winner The Wind that Shakes the Barley.
This year's World Cinema section will showcase 52 films from around the world, including the latest works of renowned directors such as Aki Kaurismaki (Lights in the Dusk), Bruno Dumont (Flanders), Tony Gatlif (Transylvania), Lars Von Trier (The Boss of it All), and Fyodor Bondarchuk (9th Company).
Newly created Midnight Passion section will offer 4 nights of midnight-to-dawn screenings, featuring darkly entertaining films from various genres. In Special Focus this year, is a section called Contemporary French Auteur, presenting 13 films from French masters such as Jean-luc Godard and Patrice Leconte. A focus on Asian Auteurs, and Asian feature animation will also be showcased.
Various events have been organized around the festival, including a special talk given on Chinese Queer Films, with Tony Rayns and Zien Cui, as well as a panel discussion on documentaries about North Korea. British filmmaker Daniel Gordon will host the latter talk and present his new North Korean documentary Crossing the Line. Another documentary highlight is 16 Takes on Korean Society, which looks at contemporary Korean history from various perspectives.
The city of Busan is 2 hours and 40 minutes south-east of Seoul by high-speed train. Advance tickets will be available from Sept. 26th at Megabox in Co-ex and Suwon, and at any Busan Bank. More information can be found at the festival's website, www.piff.org.
Nigel D'Sa (KOFIC)