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Pusan Film Festival Celebrates Success

2004/10/14 Source

By Kim Tae-jong
Staff Reporter

PUSAN - The ninth Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF) will finish its nine-day run after the closing ceremony and screening of the final film, "The Scarlet Letter", on Friday night at the Yachting Center Square.

Outside of the closing ceremony, the screenings of films at the festival effectively ended last night. A total of 262 films from 63 countries were presented during the festival period and as of Wednesday morning, 76.2 percent of the seats were sold out. But as it is the case every year, many of the films sold out quickly during the early part of the event, leaving latecomers with no tickets.

"Throughout the festival period, I was able to see a growing number of enthusiastic movie fans from home and abroad", said Kim Ji-seok, programmer of the Window of Asian Cinema section of PIFF. "So, I feel deeply sorry that we couldn't provide all of them with enough chances to see the movies".

Foreign journalists and guests called the festival a success, speaking highly of the film selection in particular. But some also voiced concerns that PIFF might be losing its unique personality by growing in size and scope.

Jeffrey Gilmore, festival director of the Sundance Film Festival, said that PIFF has somewhat lost its focus on Asian cinema by inviting too many films from Europe and other regions, and added that the festival's priority should be on balancing the quality of movies and its size.

However, Sandra den Hamer, director of International Film Festival Rotterdam, didn't agree. "The biggest part of PIFF is still on Asian cinema, and the World Cinema section is also very important", she said. "Otherwise, how can very good movies from Iran or Sweden be introduced to Korean audiences and the world?"

As for those general concerns, Kim said the festival will not grow any bigger, and will keep focusing on showing a variety of Asian films. But he also believes that it should select a range of movies outside Asia to give moviegoers chances to watch films they can't easily see at local theaters.

"This year I met some film festival directors and people from the international film industry who showed an interest in showing some Asian and Korean movies in their country", said Kim, who has been working for the festival since its inception in 1996. "It is very rewarding and I think it will help Asian cinema develop".

Kim also said the festival doesn't yet have any plans to open commercial film markets in the near future since the festival still cannot afford to due to its short history. He believes film markets will be naturally created at a certain point when all the necessary environments are ready to meet the needs of both buyers and sellers.

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