Pusan pushes Thai pics

Epic 'Suriyothai' to close fest

LONDON — Thai cinema, currently on a roll domestically, is to get a major part of the spotlight at this year’s Pusan Intl. Film Festival (Nov. 9-17).

The South Korean fest, in its sixth edition and the region’s premier platform for Asian cinema, has nabbed current Thai B.O. champ, the historical epic “Suriyothai,” as its closing film. PIFF also has an 11-pic tribute to recent Thai cinema, titled “Bangkok Express: Close Encounter with New Thai Cinema,” which includes recent hit “Bang Rajan,” as well as controversial sex shocker, “Jan Dara,” directed by Nonzee Nimibutr.

Fest opens with the world premiere of “Last Witness,” latest pic by South Korean veteran Bae Chang-ho. Other hotly awaited Korean titles included in the fest’s various sections include “One Fine Spring Day,” by Hur Jin-ho (“Christmas in August”), “Bad Guy,” by cult fave Kim Ki-duk (“The Isle,” “Address Unknown”), and “Camel(s)” by Park Ki-yong.

After several delays, PIFF has finally gone ahead with this year’s retrospective, devoted to veteran director Shin Sang-ok, who was kidnapped by the North Koreans during the 80s and later escaped to the U.S. Nine titles – from 1958 (“A Flower in Hell”) to 1994 (“Vanished”) – will give a taste of his long and influential career.

Fest’s “Window on Asian Cinema” section features the international preem of Zhang Yimou’s comedy “Happy Times,” as well as new pics from China’s Huang Jianxin (“The Marriage Certificate”), Hong Kong’s Mabel Cheung (“Beijing Rocks”) and Indonesia’s Slamet Rahardjo Djarot (“Marsinah”).

Among the jurors for the New Currents Award – PIFF’s sole competitive section – are helmers Hou Hsiao-hsien, Nimibutr and Dusan Makavejev. Special guests will include actress Jeanne Moreau, subject of a small tribute.

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