Abdrashev's 'Stalin' marches into Pusan

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"The Gift to Stalin," the latest effort from emerging Kazakh director Rustem Abdrashev, will kick off the 13th annual Pusan International Film Festival on Oct. 2.

The selection of the PIFF opener lends a bit more Central Asian flavor to a fest that already has unveiled Kazakhstan-based producer Gulnara Sarsenova as its recipient of the Asian Filmmaker of the Year award.

This year's festival in Busan, South Korea, will feature 315 films from 60 nations, of which 48 will be screened outside of their home country for the first time.

Other programs at the festival include Superheroes in Asia — which will showcase big-screen characters Gekko Kamen from Japan, India's Krrish, Thailand's Mercury Man and Korea's Hong Gil Dong — and retrospectives focusing on new-wave films from Romania and classic Korean cinema.

Pusan will continue its tradition of closing with an Asian film with the premiere of "I Am Happy," a new work by Yoon Jong-chan ("Blue Swallow") based on a Korean novel. The film generated buzz in Korea when the director cast Hyun Bin, star of a hit Korean television drama.

On the commercial end, the festival's Asian Film Market, which has grown into the region's most well-attended event for co-production and film distribution, kicks off Oct. 3 and runs for three days at venues throughout Haeundae, a beachfront Busan neighborhood.

PIFF organizers previously named Danish-born French actress Anna Karina as the jury head for its New Currents section. (partialdiff)
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