By Chung Ah-young
The 13th Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF) closed Friday with the premiere of the South Korean film "I Am Happy"
directed by Yoon Jong-chan
This year's festival featured the largest number of films and world premiers, receiving good response from audiences. But the festival, the largest of its kind in Asia, has an air of calm rather than extravagance.
Asia's largest cinematic event featured a record number 315 films from 60 countries, including 85 world premieres and 95 Asian premiers at 37 theaters over the nine-day run.
The variety of films led to large audience figures. According to PIFF organizers, a total of 198,818 people participated in the event, slightly up from last year.
"This year's festival was exceptionally calm. It's because the festival has grown up over the 13 years and the sectional theaters reduced visitors' confusion", Kim Dong-ho
, the festival director, said in a press conference before the closing ceremony.
Also, Kim and veteran French actress Anna Karina, who served as the head of the New Currents jury, announced the winners of the New Currents award ― Korean director Noh Kyeong-tae
's "Land of Scarecrows
" and Japanese director Ichii Masahide's " Naked of Defences".
The winning films were selected from 14 New Currents candidates which represent the works of young filmmakers from across the region including films from Iran and Indonesia.
The award was designed to help aspiring young filmmakers realize their cinematic dreams. The winners will be given $30,000 prize money to help fund their next projects.
This year's festival started off on a sad note with the shocking news of the death of top star Choi Jin-sil
on the opening day, and small technical problems were experienced in several small events at the beginning.
Also, the festival seemed depressed due to the recent slackening of the local film industry, with the larger film production and distribution companies sharply reduced this year.
However, the festival drew international attention as world cinematic stars such as Japanese actress Juri Ueno, Korean-descent Hollywood stars Moon Bloodgood, James Kyson Lee, Aaron Yoo, and Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai graced the festival.
During the festival, "The Good, the Bad, the Weird
", a Korean blockbuster movie, drew the highest popularity in a meeting with fans who gathered to see Jung Woo-sung
, Song Kang-ho
and Lee Byung-hun
In the Asian Film Market, "Secret Sunshine
" directed by Lee Chang-dong
featuring the Cannes award-winning actress Jeon Do-yeon
, was sold to Germany, while "The Good, the Bad, the Weird
" directed by Kim Jee-woon
were sold to Hong Kong and Sweden.
Actor Cho Jae-hyun
and actress Ye Ji-won
hosted the closing ceremony Friday evening. The closing film, "I Am Happy"
about a dejected patient (hallyu star Hyun Bin
) and heartbroken nurse (actress Lee Bo-young
) who meet in a psychiatric ward, wrapped up the festival.