Films win top prizes at Korean festival

The 13th Pusan Film Festival wrapped Friday with top prizes from its New Currents competition section shared between South Korea’s “Land of Scarecrows” and Japan’s “Naked of Defenses.”

Helmer Roh Gyung-tae’s “Scarecrows” is a collection of stories of isolated people, including one about a transgender woman who wants to become a man. Ichii Masahide’s “Naked of Defenses” delves into memories of a worker at a plastic factory.

Jury, headed by French actress Anna Karina, also made two special mentions, one for Baek Seung Bin’s “Members of the Funeral” and the other for Yang Jin’s “Er dong.”

At a press conference Friday morning, fest organizers said Pusan had screened 315 feature movies including 85 world preems, with both totals the largest in the event’s 13-year history.

“This year, we tried to introduce films from relatively unknown territories like Middle Asia, focusing on the Kazakhstan film industry,” festival director Kim Dong-ho said. “It is also a significant result that 16 films among the 27 projects funded from Asian Cinema Fund were screened at this year’s festival.”

Audience total also hit record levels with 198,818 admissions and a seat occupancy rate of 72.3%.

Total number of guest and business attendees totaled 11,110, including 3,038 domestic guests, 638 foreign guests, 1,200 cinephiles whom the festival invited, 4,640 Asian Film Market guests and 1,594 members of the press.

The fourth running of the Asian Film Academy wrapped Thursday. Headed by Taiwanese helmer Hou Hsiao-hsien as dean, the teach-in invited 24 individuals from 12 countries to attend four workshops and three mentoring sessions.

Moving from the metaphorical to the physical, Kim also outlined the festival’s plans to build a permanent home. “The ground-breaking ceremony of Busan film center Dureraum on Oct. 2 was one of the most memorable moments this year, in that it will be the center of the Asian film industry when construction is completed,” he said.

Pusan International Film Festival – 2008 winners list

New Currents Award – joint winners ($30,000)
“Land of Scarecrows”  Roh Gyeong-tae (South Korea)
“Naked of Defenses” Ichii Masahide (Japan)

New Currents Award special mentions
“Members of the Funeral” Baek Seung-bin (South Korea)
“Er Dong” Yang Jin (China)

Sonje Award ($10,000)
“Andong” by Rommel Tolentino Milo (Philippines)
“Girl” by Hong Sunghoon (South Korea)

PIFF Mecenat Award
“Mental”   Soda Kazuhiro (Japan)
“Old Partner”   Lee Chung-ryoul (South Korea)

Fipresci Award
“Jalainur” Ye Zhao (China)

NETPAC Award
“Members of the Funeral” Baek Seung-bin (South Korea)
“Treeless Mountain”   Kim So-young (South Korea/U.S.)

KNN Movie Award (Audience Award, $ 20,000)
“100” by Chris Martinez (Philippines)

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