South Korean film festival comes of age

This photo taken on Octorber 1, 2015 shows (L-R) South Korean director Kim Tae-Yong, Indian director Anurag Kashyap, German actress Nastassja Kinski, US film critic Stephanie Zacharek and Taiwanese director Sylvia Chang posing on the red carpet for the opening ceremony of the 20th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) in Busan.
PHOTO: AFP

BUSAN, South Korea - The Busan International Film Festival reached a milestone this month, emerging from its teens to open its 20th edition.

Since its launch in 1996, the annual event on South Korea's southern coast has become Asia's largest film festival, drawing actors, filmmakers, industry professionals and audiences from across Asia and around the world.

In that time, South Korea has become the world's seventh-largest movie market, with a box-office total last year of $1.6 billion, ahead of Germany and Russia, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.

A large part of that total comes from domestic blockbusters, including last year's historical action-drama, "Roaring Currents," which now holds the title of South Korea's highest-grossing movie of all time.

This year, the festival is showcasing 94 world premieres among more than 300 films from 75 countries, including "Zubaan," the festival's first opening film from India, and closing movie "Mountain Cry," from China.

Other highlights include recent works from some of Asia's most prominent filmmakers: "The Assassin," which won the best-director award for Taiwan's Hou Hsiao-hsien at the Cannes Film Festival in May; "Stop," the first Japanese-language film from South Korean director Kim Ki-duk; and "Our Little Sister," by Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda.

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