Pusan jury swept up in Currents

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BUSAN, South Korea -- Vowing to judge each film on its own values, Darius Mehrjui, who heads the New Currents jury at this year's Pusan International Film Festival, promised to "disregard the political or secondary issues like the age of the director or whether he has won prizes."

Iranian director Mehrjui and his four fellow jurors were introduced Friday morning by festival director Kim Dong-ho at a news conference before beginning their task of judging 11 new films by emerging Asian filmmakers in the New Currents section.

"It is a great honor to have such an internationally acclaimed team for the jury," Kim said of the group that includes Chinese actress Yu Nan, Korean director Lee Chang-dong, Serbian director Goran Paskaljevic and Romanian director Cristian Mungiu.

Lee, who joked that he had come to PIFF many times before but couldn't always get tickets for all the movies he wanted to see, said that he wouldn't give the Korean features in the lineup special preference. At its first meeting, he said, the jury collectively agreed, "we wouldn't place the focus on where the film is from.
... I am looking for films that stimulate me and that will truly move the viewers."

Having begun her career in Chinese art films and also just completed a role in the upcoming Hollywood summer tentpole "Speed Racer," Yu testified to her own eclectic approach, saying, "I like them both -- art films and commercial films. I think I will have my own point of view to judge the films."

Although three of his films have played PIFF, Paskaljevic is marking his first visit to the fest and emphasized a movie's humanity, rather than its style or technique, as a deciding factor in his deliberations. "Most important for me is that when I watch the film, I am in the film," he said.

Paskaljevic added "film is not a sport" and so it is not easy to declare a winner. But Mungiu, whose "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" took Palme d'Or honors at this year's Festival de Cannes, said that awards can help a filmmaker reach a larger audience. Because of its Cannes win, "4 Months" is now set for distribution in more than 60 countries, including Korea, he said.

Both Mehrjui and Mungiu also said the job will be a learning experience for them as they learn more about Asian film in general and Korean movies specifically. "I'm here to learn," Mungiu said, "because I'm really very curious about the cinema being made in this part of the world."
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