Launched in the mid-1990s, the Pusan festival soared in importance as it rode on the coattails of a Korean movie industry that had skyrocketed once the political brakes had been removed. Today the port-city fest is the premium film event in Asia but has shifted somewhat uneasily into adolescence.
Over the years, the nexus of events has gradually been transplanted from the chaotic fun of downtown Nampo-dong and its shabby cinemas to Haeundae district, which is considered a tourist center by some. With its smart hotels, state-of-the-art multiplexes and modern arena, it certainly functions smoothly on a big scale. But what the Pusan fest has gained in scale it has lost in intimacy and impact.
Now that local B.O. share for Korean films has slipped from 70% to a still enviable 50% and exports have plunged, both fest and the Asian Film Market, in only its second frame, have some tough questions to answer.
The cream of Korean and other Asian movie crops would still choose to preem at Venice, Berlin or Cannes over Pusan. The market packs a weightier punch than Tokyo, which follows immediately after, but doesn’t measure up to other fall sales pitches in Toronto or Santa Monica.
While perhaps settling for a regional role rather than a planetary one, Pusan principals are now trying to bring their powerful organizational muscle to accelerate development of the slowly emerging Asiawide industry. Initiatives include the Asian Film Academy and a host of prizes.
The market last year incorporated the Bifcom locations expo. In 2007 the event sees the launch of Co-Production Pro, a commercial movie equivalent of the fest’s Pusan Promotion Plan project and finance matching forum for arthouse films.
When: Oct. 4-12