Busan, China's Youku to Finance Rookie Filmmakers

Victor Koo - P 2014

Victor Koo - P 2014

The South Korean fest and Chinese online video giant will finance short films from emerging and experienced directors

The Busan International Film Festival is partnering with YoukuTudou's Youku, China's largest online video site, to support up-and-coming Asian filmmakers.

The talent incubator initiative, dubbed "Asia's Masters and Newcomers Project," is designed to help unearth and promote emerging Asian filmmakers. Youku founder and CEO Victor Koo will sign a memorandum of understanding with BIFF organizers on Saturday during the South Korean film festival, which opens Thursday.

For three years, starting in 2015, four first-time directors and four experienced directors will receive a grant to create shorts under the initiative. The eight short films will premiere at BIFF. Youku will then select one of the four works by the first-time directors and finance the cost of turning it into a feature-length production.

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The festival and Youku will each select two rookie filmmakers from this year's edition of the Asian Film Academy. The four experienced filmmakers will be chosen by the end of the year. Productions are slated to begin early next year.

"The collaboration between Busan International Film Festival, hub of Asian film industry, and Youku, the representative video-sharing platform in China, Asia's biggest film market, is expected to play a big role in spotting and developing rookie directors in Asia," said a BIFF spokesperson.

Youku Tudou is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and is 20 percent owned by e-commerce giant Alibaba. Earlier this year, Youku launched a film division called Heyi Film, where BIFF director Lee Yong-kwan serves as an independent board director.

Meanwhile, the 19th edition of BIFF runs through Oct. 11, showing 312 films from 79 countries.