New Currents jury presses on

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BUSAN, South Korea -- With Iranian director Samir Makhmalbaf unable to report for New Currents jury duty at the 13th Pusan International Film Festival, the four remaining jury members will carry on as they select two films by rising directors whose works reflect recent trends in Asian cinema.

"Normally in cases like this (with Makhamlbaf's absence), Anna Karina as the head of jury will have the final say if the votes turn out to be 2-2," festival director Kim Dong-ho said Friday during a news conference to introduce the jury members.

Makhmalbaf called off her trip to Pusan on the festival's opening day after she showed symptoms of dyspnea while waiting to board at the airport in Paris. She was taken to a hospital for emergency treatment.

Aside from Karina, the famed Danish-French actress who starred in several of Jean-Luc Godard's films, the section's jury includes Indian filmmaker Santosh Sivan, Korean actress Hwa-si Lee and German producer Karl Baumgartner of Pandora Film.

The New Currents award, which offers $30,000 apiece to the two winning directors, serves as a significant platform for young filmmakers to get international exposure.

Of the 14 films running in this year's section, Pusan's sole competition lineup, most are low-budget independents that in some ways touch on contemporary Asian lives affected by social problems in the region. Past winners from the section, including Zhang Lu and Liew Seng Tat, have gone on to draw larger attention from European and North American audiences.

"(Distribution of) Asian cinema in Europe has improved a lot in the past 15 years," said Baumgartner, who has distributed and co-produced well-known art house Asian films like Kim Ki-duk's "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring."

"Now the audiences in Europe know that they have at least five Asian movies they want to see every year," he continued. "They are interested in new themes in Asian cinema."
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