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Makhmalbaf to lead Asian Film Academy

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SEOUL -- Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf will lead the third annual Asian Film Academy, a three-week program that runs alongside the Pusan International Film Festival, organizers said Wednesday.

Each year, the AFA -- in conjunction with PIFF, Dong Seo University and the Korean Academy of Film Arts -- appoints a leading Asian filmmaker as dean of its cinema course, which is designed to foster new cinema talent from around Asia.

Previous deans are Hou Hsiao Hsien and Im Kwon-taek.

Makmalbaf has directed and written more than 30 movies since his first in 1981, including "Kandahar" in 2001 and "Gabbeh" in 1996. He has a long history with PIFF, including receiving the Asian Filmmaker of the Year Award in 2003.

Along with Makhmalbaf, Japanese cinematographer Toyomichi Kurita and Thai director Penek Ratanaruang will participate as mentors.

The AFA will begin Sept. 27 this year and culminate with the making of two short films, to be premiered at PIFF.

The application deadline to this year's AFA is May 31. The 12th annual PIFF is set for Oct. 4-12.