Korea’s biggest film fest announces lineup

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Korea’s biggest film fest announces lineup

It begins and ends with the dark world of horror, but in between, expect a world of cinematic revelry.
The organizers of the 8th Busan International Film Festival unveiled its lineup yesterday in a press conference at the Kumho Art Hall in central Seoul.
With 30 world premieres and nearly 90 Asian premieres, this year’s festival has one of the strongest lineups in years. All told, 244 films from 60 countries will make it to the screen during the nine-day festival, which begins Oct. 2.
The festival opens with Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s “Doppleganger,” the story of a man who discovers his dark alter ego. It closes with Park Ki-hyoung’s third film, “Acacia,” a visually stylish horror tale of a young boy and a troubled middle-class family.
“There was no specific reason for choosing horror,” said festival programmer Huh Moon-yung, saying the programming team was just looking for the best and newest films available. He added that “horror can convey the director’s intentions well.”
There will also be several special sections. “Waiting for the Rainbow” will be a seven-film and six-short-film section on the movies of Afghanistan, which festival organizers say they hope will show that Afghanistan is much more than just the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.
The works of the late Forough Farokhzad, the “big sister” of Iran’s New Wave, will also be examined ―not just her movies, but also her poetry and other creations. Eleven recent movies by independent filmmakers in China will be featured in the “Cinema on the Borderline” section.
There will be a retrospective of Canadian films, in honor of the 40th anniversary of official Korean-Canadian ties. Canadian films since 1986 will be featured, with a special showcase on Denys Arcand’s recent “Les Invasions Barbares.” The always quirky Guy Maddin will be on hand to present his newest movie, “The Saddest Music in the World.”
Finally, the works of one of Korea’s first action filmmakers, Chung Jang-hwa, will be screened, including the movies he made in Korea and later in Hong Kong.
One of the biggest changes this year is the earlier start date. For the past several years, the festival had been beginning later and later, until last year when it ran until late November, when cold winds rolled off the ocean and made for a rather chilly time. But with the show now taking place in early October, film lovers should be treated to some refreshing fall weather.
This will also allow organizers to bring back the popular outdoor screenings, which this year will feature nine films, including the highly lauded “Whale Rider” from New Zealand and the Coen brothers’ latest, “Intolerable Cruelty.” On a huge screen right by Haeundae Beach, the outdoor screenings can accommodate up to 5,000 people at a time.
Another change this year: With the opening of a fancy new multiplex down by the beaches, the festival will get some much nicer digs and be more conveniently centralized. In past years, a single, rather aged area in central Busan was home to some 80 percent of the screenings, and the block would become insanely crowded during peak times. Busan’s notoriously jammed roadways did not improve the experience.
The PIFF (organizers use an alternate romanization of Busan) runs from Oct. 2 to Oct. 10. Last year’s festival in the southern harbor city drew nearly 170,000 guests, and with the earlier start date this year, organizers say they expect even more people.
For more information, check out the festival’s Web site at www.piff.or.kr. This year, you can book tickets and make reservations in English. With so many people coming from all over Asia, theaters and hotels all fill up quickly, so it is a good idea to plan ahead.

by Mark Russell
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