The 11th edition of the Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF) kicks off Thursday in South Korea, offering some 245 films from 63 countries, in ten festival sections. Kicking off the increasingly important Asian film event is Kim Daeseung's "Trace of Love," a very popular film that organizers said was entirely sold out in under 3 minutes via online ticket sales. The homegrown melodrama is the tragic love story of former college lovers. It is the follow-up to Kim's 2000 feature, "Bungee Jumping of Their Own."
Organizers will honor actor, producer and pop singer Andy Lau as the Asian Filmmaker of the Year at the 2006 festival. He has been singled out for his work promoting Asian cinema and supporting the search for new Asian filmmakers. Previous prize recipients include Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao Hsien and the Japanese national television network, NHK.
Among the recently announced world premieres on tap for this year's festival include, two documentaries about North Korea, Daniel Gordon's "Crossing The Line" from the UK, about U.S. solider "Comrade Joe," who defected to North Korea in 1962 and Uli Gaulke's "Comrades in Dreams" about four film projectionists working in remote parts of the world. Also included as world premieres, from Southeast Asia, are Leste Chen's "Eternal Summer" from Taiwan, about a dynamic summer relationship that blossoms among a threesome; Biju Viswanath's "Grand Festival" from India, the story of a filmmaker who stages a festival in his village; Paolo Villaluna & Ellen Ramos' "Illusion" from the Phillipines, about a young painter who misleads a subject and develops a relationship with her; and Huynh Luu's "The White Silk Dress" from Vietnam, about a poor family living in the traditional culture of the 1960s.
World premiere Korean films include Park Ki Hyung's "Gangster High," about a high school student who forms a soccer team mistaken for a gang; Lee Leon-beom's gangster story "Cruel Winter Blues"; Kim Tai-sik's "Driving With My Wife's Lover," about a man who tracks down the cab driver having an affair with his wife; Park Heung-sik's "The Railroad," about a subway driver dealing with the death of a woman who jumped in front of his train; Shin Dongil's "My Friend & His Wife," about two longtime friends whose relationship is tested; Lee Hise's "Korean Don Quixote," about a young painter whose life changes when his uncle is charged with espionage in East Berlin; Kim Duk-Chul's "People Crossing the River," about the relationship between Korea and Japan; and Kim Myeong Joon's "Our School," about the everyday lives of Korean-Japanese life.
Korean filmmaker Im Kwontaek will attend the festival as dean of the second Asian Film Academy at this 2006 PIFF, a three-week program for emerging talent co-hosted by the festival, the Korean Film Academy, and Dongseo University. 24 fellows from 19 countries have been selected to participate in the program. Among those on tap as instructors for the Academy this year are director Darezhan Omirbayev from Kazakhstan, Japanese cinematographer Takama Kenji, Korean director Bae Changho, and Korean cinematographer Pak Giung. The AFA began last month and will conclude during this year's PIFF.
New to Pusan this year is the first Asian Film Market, running October 15 - 18th, the umbrella for both the Pusan Promotion Project (PPP), a financing program for 36 projects and co-productions seeking additional funding, and the annual BIFCOM for film commissions and production services, as well as a new market offering some 200 screenings, sales office space, and special events including "Star Summit Asia," a gathering of talent agencies.
[indieWIRE associate editor Brian Brooks will be filing dispatches from the 2006 Pusan International Film Festival.]