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Pusan film festival to strengthen leading position in Asia

2005/09/08 Source

The Pusan International Film Festival will kick off with the final version of Chinese director Hou Hsiao Hsien's "Three Times" on Oct. 6 in a gala event that features 307 films from 73 countries.

PIFF, the biggest film festival in Asia, will focus on solidifying its position in the fast-growing Asian movie industry while celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and close with Korean director Hwang Byung-gook's "Wedding Campaign" on Oct. 14, organizers said in a news conference Tuesday.

"This year, PIFF will concentrate on showing its gratitude for Korean and Asian fans who support the film festival, and we have duly increased the number of world premieres to 61 this year, up from 40 last year", festival director Kim Dong-ho told reporters.

Hou's "Three Times" was first screened at the Cannes film festival this year and has since gone through extensive editing. The final 135-minute version will be shown to the public at the southeastern port city of Busan for the first time. Director Hou is also known to have strongly expressed his willingness to get his finished film screened first at PIFF as he has long maintained amicable relationships with the festival and its organizers.

"Three Times" introduces three love stories that use epochal moments in Taiwanese history as a touchstone. It follows a couple in love, as acted by the same performers (Shu Qi and Chang Chen), with the couple undertaking different identities in three time-related episodes.

"Wedding Campaign", director Hwang's feature debut work, is a humorous and heart-warming melodrama dedicated to those struggling in the periphery of society and yet attempt to live their lives to the fullest. The cast includes top Korean actors Jung Jae-young, Yu Jun-sang and Soo Ae.

In addition to the more accessible closing film, festival director Kim said the closing ceremony is also being prepared to accommodate about 5,000 Busan citizens as part of efforts to make the festival more widely available and enjoyable.

PIFF also aims to expand the screening for movie industry officials this year. "Other Asian festivals in Hong Kong and Tokyo have beefed up their film market functions and there's a growing competition to secure the initiative. PIFF is now working on measures to position itself as Asia's top film market, with detailed projects likely to be implemented next year", Kim said.

The nine-day event's main programs include "A Window on Asian Cinema", "New Currents", "Korean Panorama", "World Cinema", "Wide Angle", "Open Cinema" and "Critics' Choice".

"A Window on Asian Cinema" programmer Kim Ji-seok said more refined Asian films will be introduced this year, with many of them screened for the first time ever for PIFF fans in Asia.

Kim noted that "Close-up", a 1990 film by renowned Iranian director and PIFF's president of jury for the competition section "New Currents", has been recently completed in time for the PIFF's "Asian Pantheon" section.

"The film project was first proposed by PIFF but the production came to a halt as the main actor was diagnosed with cancer. But in a miraculous development, the film was finished just one week ago, and is now set to greet viewers in Busan", Kim said.

Programmer Huh Moon-young, in charge of Korean films, said a host of new directors will show off their talent this year, with Jeon Soo-il ("Time between Dog and Wolf") leading the pack.

In the Korean Cinema Retrospective series, 10 features by the late Lee Man-hee-I (1931-75), whose cinematic artistry crosses over between genres in the 1960s, will be screened in the honor of the 30th anniversary of his death with the title "Lee Man-hee-I, the Poet of the Night".

For instance, "Holiday", will be screened for the first time ever, Huh said. "The film was originally produced in 1968 but never made it to theaters because of censorship, and "A Water Mill" of 1966 is also a masterful work that will satisfy director Lee's fans", he said.

The "World Cinema" section features movies in select countries whose film industries are now booming. "We have invited films from Israel, France, Hungary and Poland to reflect their growing presence in the global market, and this year will also highlight indie films", programmer Jeon Yang-jun said.

In the "Wide Angle" section known for presenting works of progressive spirits, programmer Hong Hyo-sook said the visible trend this year is that filmmakers are attempting to bolster the overall quality of their films rather than experimenting with new forms and styles.

Aside from main programs, PIFF will present a host of special sections. "Re-mapping of Asian Auteur Cinema 1", for instance, will introduce the rare art-house works by some of the leading Asian filmmakers, while "Reunion of New Currents" features the latest films by New Currents awardees and the runner-ups in the previous editions.

In the World Cinema (out of Asia) category, British cinema will make its entry to the Korean festival, with the lineup of distinguished directors including Peter Greenaway, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, as well as other up-and-coming British directors.

This special presentation will be a one-of-a-kind opportunity to witness the trend of contemporary British cinema known for its stylish and controversial cinematic themes, organizers said.

As for the security concerns, festival director Kim Dong-ho said measures are being taken to beef up the overall security level while minimizing inconveniences for visitors. He also stressed the greater contribution of corporate sponsorship from local firms like Cinema Service, CJ Entertainment, SK Telecom and

Choi Hee-young, CEO Of, the country's leading Internet portal, said the company will hold various online and offline events for its 15 million daily visitors in connection with the film festival.

PIFF started in 1996 when it screened 170 films from 27 countries, with its focus placed on talented yet lesser known Asian directors and films.

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 funds for the festival to 5 billion won.

For further information on the lineup, schedules and ticket reservations, visit its official Web site at Open the link

By Yang Sung-jin

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