BUSAN, South Korea - The largest film festival in Asia kicked off on Thursday with screening of much-anticipated Taiwanese war film and stars flocking the red carpet in the southeastern port city of Busan.
Co-hosted by Korean actress Moon So-ri and Japanese Ken Watanabe, an Oscar-nominee for "The Last Samurai" in 2004, the festival's opening ceremony was attended by some 5,000 guests from home and abroad, who packed the outdoor theatre of Busan Cinema Center.
Among the participants of the festival were Korean actor Jung Woo-sung, Korean filmmaker Im Kwon-taek, Chinese actress Tang Wei and Korean actress Kim Hee-ae.
During the ceremony, Hong Kong-based auteur Ann Hui received the Asian Filmmaker of the Year award for her contribution to the development of the Asian film industry.
The opening film "Paradise in Service" made its world premiere after the ceremony.
Directed by Taiwanese director Doze Niu, the film centers on Taiwanese soldiers at the height of cross-strait tension in 1960s and '70s.
"The film can deeply connect to Korean people as well," said Niu at the press conference before the opening ceremony.
"Chinese people and Korean people share connection, such as similar culture and also painful parts of our own history. I hope this film helps to understand the past and let us move forward for a better future in this world."
The Hong Kong film "Gangster Pay Day" by director Lee Bo Cheung will close the 10-day festival on Oct. 11.
The film is a tale "combining comedy and melodrama without the tragic beauty of typical action films," according to the festival committee for selecting the film.
The 19th edition of BIFF will screen 314 films from 79 different countries, including 98 world premieres -- an increased number from the 301 films from 70 countries last year.
In conjunction with the festival, The Asian Film Market, Asian Project Market and various conferences and forums on the film industry will be held, attracting film business personnel from all over the world.
This year's BIFF runs from Oct. 2-11 at various venues across the city.
For this year's full lineup and ticket inquiries; visit www.biff.kr