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New Currents Jury has historic outlook

Festival's Kim encourages panel to vote with 'heart'

BUSAN, South Korea -- Jurors for Pusan’s main competition spoke of the tough task ahead on Friday as they prepare to select two standouts among the 13 films in the New Currents section.

The five-member jury will make its choice between features from across Asia, of which 11 are world premieres and two international bows.

Emmy award-winning costume director Wada Emi from Japan heads the jury, which also includes Korean actress Kim Yun-jin (“Lost”), Indian director Murali Nair, Taiwan actress Yang Kuei-mei and the jury’s only non-Asian member Christoph Terechte, head of Berlin’s International Forum program.

Wada, who demurely remarked, “I’m head of the jury because I’m the oldest” has designed costumes for films by cinematic giants such as Akira Kurosawa, Nagisa Oshima, Peter Greenaway, Franco Zeffirelli, and Zhang Yimou in addition to work in theater and opera. When asked how she would evaluate the contenders, she answered, “I’m going to consider what significance each film has in the history of cinema.”

Among jury members actress Kim expressed uncertainty over her ability to judge the best film, but festival head Kim Dong-ho reassured her “whatever moves your heart is the best film.” The actress, known globally for her role in U.S. TV series “Lost,” launched her career in Korean TV dramas and broke through to celebrity status with her role in Korean box office smash “Shiri” (1998).

Actress Yang, a Golden Horse winner, has worked with top Taiwan directors such as Tsai Ming-liang and Ang Lee. Director Nair has had several of his films screen at PIFF following his Camera d’Or win at Cannes for his feature debut “Marana Simhasanam” (1999).

Terechte of Germany worked as programmer for the Berlin International Film Festival before becoming head of the Forum section in 2001. Having visited PIFF for 10 years, he said of the fest “It’s definitely become much bigger but since its creation it’s been the one place where programmers come to find new talents in Asia.” In the last three years, three New Currents best film winners have gone on to screen at Berlin.

The jury will award prizes of US$30,000 each to the two best films in the section. Unlike other festivals that offer a first and second prize, New Currents selects two to share the top honor of best feature. The section presents only debut or sophomore features by new Asian directors in the hopes of discovering hidden jewels across the region.