Helmer Ki-duk a fest fav

PUSAN — The big winner of this year’s 4th Pusan Promotion Plan, Asia’s premier meeting place for filmmakers, producers and distribs, was Korea’s hottest young helmer Kim Ki-Duk.

The PPP is a pre-market for Asian films where projects and their directors can find potential co-producing or co-financing partners. PPP is the largest pre-market of its kind in the world.

Award-winner

Kim’s PPP entry project, “Bow,” a tale of love, jealousy and compassion between a 60-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl secured the Pusan Award, worth $20,000, and the Korean Filmmaking Assist Project Award sponsored by Sony, valued at $10,000.

Running Nov. 12-14, concurrently with the 6th Pusan Intl. Film Festival (which unspooled Nov. 9-17), this year’s PPP — part market, part development hothouse — proved that its organizers can let it grow without killing the cozy and congenial atmosphere that’s a big reason for its success.

“It has been the best PPP so far,” says Philippe Bober, the CEO of Paris- and Berlin-based the Coproduction Office. Bober discovered Ye Lou’s festival-award winning “Suzhou River,” which was released by Strand in the U.S., at the first PPP three years ago.

Like most other PPP attendees, Bober is flying home with several projects under consideration.

If the awards are important, the networking and project pitching during the PPP are its lifeblood.

The lineup of execs was catnip to Asian filmmakers, and included Dimension Films’ VP of production Jim Powers, Miramax Films China rep Dede Nickerson and Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia’s development executive Norman Wang, who sat in on a pitching session.

Korea’s leading production and distribution companies, such as CJ Entertainment, Cinema Service, Cineclick and Mirovision, as well as BOM Film and Myung Film, took advantage of newly expanded meeting areas that functioned as a de facto market.

The first-time presence of international festival heavyweights added to the growing prestige of both the PPP and Pusan fest. Cannes’ artistic director Thierry Fremeaux and Berlin’s Dieter Kosslick were in town, both accompanied by their programming teams.

“It’s very impressive and the best place to select Asian films,” Kosslick said.

Another 23 festivals sent execs to feel the Pusan beat.

Two panel discussions dealt with the film industries in Thailand and Korea, which are both experiencing a renaissance. Both countries sport a new generation of directors with fresh ideas and more readily available production coin who make films that beat U.S. imports at the local box office.

The PPP also saw Kim Ki-Duk share the Pusan Award with Taiwan’s Lin Cheng-Sheng, whose “The Moon Also Rises” is a tale of a complex mother-daughter relationship set in postwar Taiwan.

Iranian director Kambozia Partovi’s project “The Truck,” set in Afghanistan, nabbed the Hubert Bals Fund Award, sponsored by the Rotterdam Intl. Film Festival’s Balsfoundation. It’s worth 10,000 euros ($8,800).

There were seven other winners from the field of 19 pre-selected entries.

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