'President' to open South Korean event
SEOUL — The Pusan Film Festival will feature a record-breaking 355 films from 70 countries, including 98 world preems, the fest said Tuesday.The South Korean event, which runs Oct. 8-16, opens with local helmer Jang Jin’s comedy “Good Morning President,” and closes with Chinese film “The Message,” co-directed by Chen Kuo-fu and Gao Qunshu. “Good Morning President” stars Jang Dong-kun (“The Warrior’s Way”) as a young good-looking president. “The Message” is a thriller set in wartime China, involving Japan’s intelligence agency. The record-breaking pic numbers were powered by the fest’s increased budget. “Other major film festivals had to reduce their size due to the global economic recession. However, we could invite a record-number number of films with the help of Pusan city as well as the sponsors,” said festival director Kim Dong-ho Tuesday. The most significant change this year is the fact that the fest has launched a new competition section for non-Asian filmmakers, under the name Flash Forward. The section, which sets out to discover new talent, has a $20,000 cash prize. The section has 11 films, including Daniel Nearing’s “Chicago Heights” from the U.S. New Currents, the fest’s competition section for up-and-coming Asian filmmakers, has selected 12 films, including Korean film “Paju,” the second film by Park Chan-ok, who won the top award at the Rotterdam fest in 2003 with “Jealousy Is My Middle Name.” A Window on Asian Cinema will screen 53 films from 23 countries, with world premieres including Yukisada Isao’s “Parade” (Japan), Woo Ming Jin’s “Woman on Fire Looks for Water” (Malaysia) and Cheng Wen-tang’s “Tears” (Taiwan). World Cinema shows 96 films from 52 countries. The section sets up a new sub-section under its roof named Masters, which collects 12 films by the masters of world cinema, including “Bright Star” (Jane Campion), “The White Ribbon” (Michael Haneke) and “Eden Is West” (Costa Gavras), among others. In terms of Korean films, the fest has set “humor” and “expansion” as this year’s key words, and aims to show a fresher, more populist face of the local industry. It has included a large number of local films, many of them the second features of directors who were critically acclaimed with their debut films, including “Break Away” by Lee Song Hee Il (“No Regrets”), “Lost and Found” by Jeon Kye Soo (“The Ghost Theater”), and “Tokyo Taxi” by Kim Tai-sik (“Driving with My Wife’s Lover”) in the Korean Cinema Today section. Helmer Park Chan-wook’s “Thirst” will be shown in a 145-minute extended version in the section. Special Programs in Focus includes: Johnnie To: The Hood in the City, a retrospective of the Hong Kong helmer; Mabuhay! Pinoy Indi-Cinema, which shows the history of Filipino cinema; Dario Argento Falling in Giallo: Truth of the Invisible, which screens five films by the Italian horror master; Yash Chopra, The Romantic Master, which shows four films by the king of Bollywood films, who is also the recipient of Asian Filmmaker of the Year Award. Guests include Bryan Singer, as the producer of “Trick ‘r Treat,” and Josh Hartnett, as the star of “I Come with the Rain,” as well as French helmer Jean-Jacques Beineix, who will head the New Currents section jury. For the Asian Film Market, 72 companies from 22 countries have registered as exhibitors. The market will stage workshops for Asian and European film producers, run with European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs.