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Busan International Film Festival Day 2
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The red carpets are being rolled up for another year, as the 17th Busan International Film Festival has come to a close. Here's a look at the big winners of the event...
BUSAN, South Korea
-- The 17th Busan International Film Festival came to a close yesterday, with the ten-day run being considered the most successful in its existence. The closing ceremony preceded the final screening, Television, by Bangladesh director Mostofa Sarwar Farooki.
In total, 221,002 movie tickets were sold to the 304 screenings, 39 of which were international premiers, while 93 were world premieres. Over 11,500 accredited guests attended the festival, while 2,357 accredited press also covered the event. In comparison to last year, attendance at the nine day event totalled 196,177 with 2,237 accredited journalists, and over 9,000 accredited guests—a significant rise and notice of the festivals gaining popularity.
36, from Thailand, and Kayan, a Lebanese drama, were awarded the main prize in the New Currents award, which nets both Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit and Maryam Najaf $30,000 for their win, which was for first- or second-time Asian or Middle Eastern directors.
Najafi's first feature film and revolves around a woman working in a male-dominated Lebanese community in Vancouver, while Thamrongrattanarit’s experimental hour-long movie uses 36 still photos to recount a relationship between a film location scout and an art director, according to the Huffington Post.
Flower Buds, from Czech director Zdenek Jirasky, won the $30,000-Flash Forward award.
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Established Asian stars as well as budding actors and actresses walked the red carpet Thursday at the start of this year's Busan International Film Festival.
But the director of the festival's opening film, Bhutanese monk Khyentse Norbu, ditched the red carpet for something much less glamorous: a cave.
While most filmmakers would jump at a chance to appear at Asia's largest film festival as their work opened the event, Norbu remained in Bhutan for a Buddhist retreat in a cave on a remote mountain.
Norbu's third feature movie, "Vara: A Blessing," a drama depicting religion, art and forbidden love in an Indian village through a classical South Indian dance, took the opening spot — a position usually reserved for a Chinese or Korean movie.
"I'm speechless ... I'm so honored," Norbu told reporters in Busan in a video message. He thanked the festival for "so much support and encouragement to obscure, special films and special filmmakers that are not necessarily known and established."
The choice of a non-Chinese and non-Korean movie for the opening underlined the festival's effort to emphasize lesser-known works in the region. The festival's director, Lee Yong-kwan, who selected the opening movie, said this year's event would demonstrate the potential of Asian movies.
The Busan festival is known for discovering new talent and highlighting movies on the fringe of the global film industry.
Among the guests at this year's festival are Academy Award nominee Ken Watanabe, Irish director Jim Sheridan, Japanese heartthrob Joe Odagiri and Taipei-based director Tsai Ming-liang. Hong Kong actor Aaron Kwok and South Korean actress Kang Soo-yeon hosted the opening night event.
The festival, held in South Korea's second-largest city, is younger than its rivals in Tokyo and Hong Kong. But it has grown to become one of the most important events in the industry, with new talents and independent moviemakers showcasing their works and finding investors, and global movie industry officials discovering new Asian films.
Works from Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan and Singapore are among the 301 movies to be presented during the 10-day fair. "Nagima," a Kazakh director's drama about young orphans, was selected among the six Gala Presentation works, comprising mostly Korean movies.
The selection of movies from 70 countries includes 95 world premieres and the usual large selection of works by independent South Korean movie makers, but fans of established film directors are not to be disappointed.
South Korean director Bong Joon-ho will present the English-language film "Snowpiercer" before its U.S. release, while Kim Jee-woon will visit the festival for the world premiere of "The X." Director Kim Ki-duk is set to return to Busan with another controversial work, "Moebius."
GRAND OPENING: Spectators watch the opening ceremony of the Busan International Film Festival at Busan Cinema Center in Busan, southeast of Seoul on Thursday. (Reuters)
BUSAN, South Korea: Fireworks lit up the night sky and movie stars graced the red carpet as Asian’s biggest film festival kicked off Thursday night in the South Korean city of Busan.Japanese heartthrobs Joe Odagiri and Maeda Atsuko brought wild cheers from the thousands of fans gathered outside the Busan Cinema Center for the opening of the 18th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) while Hong Kong’s Aaron Kwok was joined in front of the cameras by South Korean actress Kang Soo-Yeon. Oscar-winning Irish director Neil Jordan and his compatriot and six-time Oscar nominee Jim Sheridan led the international contingent, with perennial favorites of the European art house circuit — China’s Jia Zhangke and Hirokazu Kore-eda of Japan — bringing with them the films which scooped prizes at this year’s Cannes festival, “A Touch of Sin” and “Like Father, Like Son.”Kwok joined Kang as co-host of the night’s lavish opening ceremony, the first time a non-Korean man has been handed the task.“It is an honor. Movies that play here have a huge spotlight on them and get a lot of notice. The Busan festival has shown over 18 years that it has a lot of power,” said Kwok, whose latest thriller Silent Witness is showing at Busan.“We have worked hard to find new talent and bring Asian films to the attention of the world,” said festival director Lee Yong-Kwan.BIFF also handed out its Korean Cinema Award to the French movie critic and historian Charles Tesson in recognition of his lifetime achievements in introducing Korean cinema. The 10-day BIFF opened with the world premiere of Bhutanese musical drama “Vara: A Blessing,” a surprise selection that organizers said demonstrated the event’s commitment to unearthing gems of Asian cinema. The film’s director, Bhutanese lama Khyentse Norbu, chose to miss the festival in favor of a silent mountain retreat, but sent a video message in which he expressed disbelief that his story of an Indian villager who falls for a man of lower caste had been chosen as the opener.“The festival has always shown so much encouragement to obscure and special films and special filmmakers that are not necessarily known and established,” he said.More established stars of Asian film will be attending the festival, including Academy Award-nominated Japanese actor Ken Watanabe, and director Kiyoshi Kurosawa. The event aims to showcase new Asian talent, with more than 300 films to be screened over 10 days, including 95 world premieres.Box office takings in Asia are growing much faster than in North America — up 15 percent to $10.4 billion in 2012, compared to 6.0 percent growth in Hollywood’s home region to $10.8 billion over the same period according to the US-based Motion Picture Association.Busan will also “look into the future of Korean cinema as well as the cooperation we have with non-Asian regions,” festival director Lee said. The festival’s New Currents competition offers two prizes of $30,000 for first- or second-time Asian directors from a shortlist of 12 productions.Busan’s Asian Filmmaker of the Year award will go to Cambodian director Rithy Panh for preserving his country’s films and audio-visual materials.The director, who lost his family during the Khmer Rouge genocide, won the Un Certain Regard prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival with “The Missing Picture,” in which he retold the turbulent history of Cambodia with elaborate dioramas.Irish director Sheridan is in town to host a Master Class where he will discuss with students work such as his acclaimed feature “In the Name of the Father” while he will also join Jordan, director of the Oscar-winning “The Crying Game” in support of a segment on Irish cinema.The city’s Haeundae beachfront will host events giving fans the chance to interact with stars including Watanabe, along with the veteran Hong Kong actor Jimmy Wang, in Busan for a screening of his martial arts classic “The One-Armed Swordsman” (1967).Buzz has built around the first screenings of maverick South Korean director Kim Ki-Duk’s ultra-violent and dialogue-free “Moebius,” as well as Bong Joon-Ho’s English language sci-fi thriller “Snowpiercer,” starring Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton, which is yet to be screened overseas.The festival closes on October 12 with the world premiere of the Kim Dong-hyun drama “The Dinner.”