Busan Film Fest 2009 Kicks Off In Style

By Lee Hyo-won
Staff Reporter

Busan - The 14th edition of the Pusan (Busan) International Film Fstival (PIFF) kicked off Thursday with glitz and glam. Some 150 star cineastes and VIP guests walked the red carpet, sizzling up the cool autumn evening at the seaside resort.

The Busan Yatching Center Outdoor Theater exploded with excitement, as more than the usual number of fans who could not secure seats swarmed the venue outside. Competition was fierce among domestic and foreign press during the photo-op.

Hollywood heartthrob Josh Hartnett and South Korean superstar Lee Byung-hun stole the limelight as the two "I Come With the Rain" co-stars walked down the red carpet together. Also in the spotlight was actress Kim Yunjin, who appeared glamorous in a chic black dress. The "Lost" star attended the PIFF opening ceremony for the first time as the new face of makeup brand L'Oreal, an official partner of the event.

Meanwhile, Jang Jin, who directed the event's opening film "Good Morning President" made an appearance with his wife and young son. Screen beauty Jeon Do-yeon appeared wearing a black evening dress with a plunging V-neck line.
Jeon, who won the Best Actress Award at Cannes last year, will receive the Legion d'Honneur Chevalier, an award from the French government in recognition of her contribution to the arts. She will receive the honor tonight during French Night, hosted by the French embassy.

Kang, meanwhile, is taking part in the festival as the jury head of Flash Forward, a newly established competition section for works by rising directors from all over the world (not limited to Asia like PIFF's New Currents section). Kang is one of the country's most representative talents, having won Best Actress awards at Venice in 1987 and Moscow in 1989.

Esteemed visitors from afar included directors Jia Zhangke and Costa Gavras.

Tuxedo-clad guests added more zest to the opening event, including "Boys over Flowers" star Lee Min-ho and popular actors Kang Ji-hwan and Jang Hyuk. Also in attendance were politicians including National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyong-o and members of the National Assembly Culture, Sports, Tourism, Broadcasting and Communications Committee.

Actresses such as Choi Kang-hee, Han Ye-seul and Soo Ae kept cameras flashing as they emerged in an array of gem-colored dresses.

Screen personalities Jang Mi-hee and Kim Yun-seok hosted the main program, while festival director Kim Dong-ho and festival chairman, Busan Mayor Hur Nam-sik, announced the official start of PIFF 2009. The director and stars of the event's opening film "Good Morning President" ― hallyu star Jang Dong-gun, veteran actress Go Doo-shim, comedian Im Ha-ryong and "Korean Barbie doll" Han Chae-young ― took to the stage to briefly discuss the film.

Veteran rock band San Ul Rim hyped up the festivities with powerful tunes, which was followed by the surprise appearance of top girl band Girls' Generation. The crowd went wild as the young starlets sang and danced onstage.

This year a record number of 355 films from 70 countries are being shown. The long lineup is due to the addition of last-minute sections such as one dedicated to the late actress Jang Jin-yeong. Her films including the romantic comedy "Singles" and biopic "Blue Swallow" will be screened. Last year, PIFF's opening event wore a tinge of somberness when news broke about actress Choi Jin-sil's death.

PIFF also started this year a new outreach program for the physically disabled. Korean movies such as Park Chan-wook's award-winning "Thirst" and the box office smash "Haeundae" will be screened with Korean subtitles to service the hearing impaired. The hit action flick "Running Turtle" and "Where Are You Going", which is featured in the New Currents section, will be offered with descriptive video service for the visually impaired. A screening time table in Braille can be found around the festival venue.

For more information, visit http://www.piff.org (Korean and English).