Posted : 2013-10-03 10:10
Updated : 2013-10-03 10:10

Busan Int'l Film Festival to begin Thursday

Asia's largest film festival will open in Busan Thursday featuring a stronger presence by up-and-coming filmmakers in the region, according to organizers.

The 18th installment of the annual Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) is set to feature 301 movies from 70 countries around the world, with 95 films having world premieres. The selection is slightly smaller compared to last year's 304 films from 75 countries but comprises more world premieres and works by newbie Asian directors. Ninety-four of the 304 movies are feature debuts or second films by them.

Bhutanese filmmaker Khyentse Norbu's "Vara: A Blessing" will open the 10-day festival that will last until Oct. 12. The movie intertwines South India's classical dance of Bharatanatyam with a story of beautiful love, self-sacrifice and a woman's strength in overcoming adversity.

The head juror of the New Currents award, a competition section open to first- or second-time Asian filmmakers, is Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, an Iranian director best known for "Nargess" (1991) and "The Blue Veiled" (1995). The award gives prizes of US$30,000 to two films to be chosen from a shortlist of 12 films.

But the festival's another competition section, dubbed "Flash Forward," for non-Asian films was turned into a non-competition segment this year, according to organizers.

The festival will also offer a special retrospective of some 70 signature films by Korean cinematic master Im Kwon-taek, the winner of the Honorary Golden Bear in the 55th Berlin International Film Festival for his contribution to the advancement of Korean cinema.

There will also be special screenings of films from Central Asia and Ireland as well as movies by Korean director Park Chul-soo, who was killed in a traffic accident in February.

Among South Korean films, director Bong Joon-ho's local box-office smash hit "Snowpiercer" and Hong Sang-soo's "Nobody's Daughter Haewon" and "Our Sunhi" will be screened.

Also to be shown is Venice award-winning director Kim Ki-duk's controversial latest work "Moebius," which was allowed by the Korea Media Rating Board to open in local theaters last month only after cutting three minutes of incestuous sex scenes. The un-cut version was premiered at the 70th Venice Film Festival, but BIFF will screen the redacted version, according to organizers. The film tells the story of a man who is raised in a family destroyed by the father's affair and renounces the world.

Hong Kong actor Aaron Kwok will co-host the festival's opening ceremony along with South Korean actress Kang Soo-yeon. He will be the second foreign national to open the festival following Chinese actress Tang Wei, who hosted last year's opening ceremony.

Among other major foreign guests to attend the festival are Japanese actor Ken Watanabe, Taiwanese director Tsai Ming Liang and Chinese director Jia Zhangke. Gianfranco Rosi, an Italian director who won the Golden Lion for the movie "Sacro GRA" during this year's Venice Film Festival, and Italian actress Elena Cotta, who received the best actress award in the same festival, will also come to Busan.

On the eve of the opening, Taiwanese actor Jimmy Wong, Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan, and Korea's Im Kwon-taek were honored during the festival's annual hand-printing ceremony.

The 10-day festival will close with "The Dinner," an indie film by Korean director Kim Dong-hyun about a series of misfortunes experienced by an ordinary family. The film was made with the support from BIFF's 2011 Asian Cinema Fund. (Yonhap)

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