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Pusan film festival kicks off today

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  • Published : Apr 4, 2010 - 03:08
  • Updated : Apr 4, 2010 - 03:08
The 13th Pusan International Film Festival will kick off its 9-day run today in the southeastern port city of Busan with a Kazakh film, "The Gift to Stalin," directed by Rustem Abdrashev.
The opening ceremony will be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Yachting Center, Busan, and will present the premiere of the Kazakhstan film, which set a new sellout record in 1 minute and 30 seconds.
Actors Jung Jin-young and Kim Jung-eun will host the opening show, which is expected to attract hundreds of leading Korean stars and high-profile guests.
The film festival features 315 films from 60 countries. Its influence has been steadily growing throughout Asia, marking a broadened perspective by choosing a Central Asian film as the opener for the first time.
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"The Gift to Stalin" is a touching and dramatic epic about a man who has survived a gruesome period when the minorities were forced to move to Central Asia by the former Soviet government in 1949. A Jewish kid named Sashka is on a train with his grandfather being deported with others. His grandfather dies on the train and he is dropped off with the body at a small, peaceful village. But tragedy has fallen upon the village. All the townspeople have been murdered, leaving Sashka alone.
Reflecting its fast-growing stature, the country`s biggest film festival will feature a record number of world and international premieres, totaling 133, and the budget also increased by 700 million won to 8.9 billion won ($74.2 million).
The screening facilities have been improved for moviegoers and festival buffs. Three theaters have been added, resulting in a total of 37 theaters screening films in the festival lineup.
With the regular sections set to feature a wide range of films from around the world, this year`s Wide Angle section has expanded its award to the entire Asian region. The Woonpa Award is replaced by the PIFF Mecenat Award while the Sonje Award retains the same title. PIFF Mecenat and Sonje will grant $10,000 to each of the best Korean and Asian directors of documentaries and short films.
The Korean Cinema Retrospective section will feature "Han Hyung-mo: The Alchemist of Popular Genres," a tribute to the talented director, who successfully combined popularity, genre and the everyday culture of the 1950s and 1960s.
The festival also continues to focus on nurturing the Asian Film Market. Initially organized in 2006, the Asian Film Market aims to function as Asia`s key film marketplace for production houses, distributors and film industry people. This year, the market`s operations have been overhauled, with the sales office moved to the Seacloud Hotel at Haeundae for more efficient and convenient environment for business. PPP, the largest project market in Asia, and Busan International Film Commission and Industry Showcase have also moved their location to the Paradise Hotel.
The Asian Film Market presents special programs such as "Asian Film Fund Forum" that offers an overview of the financing market for Asian film and "Korean Producers In Focus" which is co-organized with the Producers Guild of Korea.
Film industry people, including festival directors of major international film festivals all over the world, are scheduled to fly to Busan. Cannes Festival Director Thierry Fremaux, who has been visiting Pusan International Film Festival since the 6th season, Geoffrey Gilmore of Sundance International Film Festival, and many other directors and programmers from the world`s major film festivals are planning to visit the festival. The Festival Committee announced that 78 film festival professionals will come to Busan.
The festival will close the run on Oct. 10 with Korean director Yoon Jong-chan`s "I Am Happy," starring Hyun Bin and Lee Bo-yeong.

By Yang Sung-jin

(insight@heraldcorp.com)