Weinstein's drama a winner in Korea

SEOUL — Thai helmer Chookiet Sakveerakul’s “13,” about a salesman drawn into a deadly game for prize money, was crowned best of show at the Puchon Intl. Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan) in South Korea on Thursday.

The Weinstein Co. pickup also won best Asian Film award from the European Fantastic Film Festival Federation.

German cannibal pic “Grimm Love” won PiFan’s director award for Martin Weisz. Pic’s stars, Thomas Kretschmann and Thomas Huber, shared the actor honor.

Hong Kong’s Charlene Choi won the actress award for her turn in helmer Oxide Pang’s “Diary.”

U.S. helmers Hal Haberman and Jeremy Passmore’s superhero feature, “Special,” won the jury award.

Korean helmer Chung Chang-hwa chaired the jury, which included U.S. producer/director Mick Garris; Udine Far East Film Festival director Sabrina Baracetti from Italy; Variety film critic Derek Elley; and Japanese helmer Sono Sion.

Fest’s 11th edition was well attended by local auds, with festival director Han Sang-jun noting that the average seating occupancy of 58% is 24% higher than last year.

Guests were mostly positive about this year’s fest, though the competition section was judged to be weak and lacking a consistent vision.

Many also questioned the dearth of mainstream Korean genre pics in the program, in favor of low-budget independent work that seemed to clash with the spirit of the event.

Auds were particularly enthusiastic about the Japanese films, with many selling out well in advance of their screenings.

Local press coverage was also up sharply, following a couple of years when a spat between the film industry and the city of Bucheon, where the fest is held, kept many viewers away.

Thursday’s closing ceremony was capped by a screening of Indonesian helmer Joko Anwar’s hit “Kala.” The event will wrap on Saturday after an extra two days of selected “post-festival” screenings.

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