Busan, Galway, Sofia Get UNESCO "City of Film" Designation

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Busan Cinema Center, main venue of the Busan International Film Festival

The host of the Busan International Film Festival is the first Asian city to join the organization's Creative Cities Network

UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, on Monday handed the "City of Film" designation to the South Korean city of Busan, Ireland's Galway and Bulgaria's Sofia, officials announced.

The designation recognizes a city's contribution to cinema and media production. The three cities join Bradford, U.K., and Sydney, Australia, which previously got the UNESCO designation. Busan is the first city in Asia to get the designation.

Busan hosts Asia's largest film festival, the annual Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), whose 19th edition was held in October. The Southern port city is also home to major Korean film-related bodies, including the Korean Film Council. The Busan Film Commission also has been on the forefront of promoting filmmaking in Asia.

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The U.N. branch for the promotion of education, science and culture began its Creative Cities Network project in 2004 with the aim of celebrating and maintaining cultural diversity. A total 69 cities have been designated Creative Cities under seven categories, including film.

Four other Korean cities are included. Seoul was previously named a city for design, Icheon for crafts and folk art, and Jeonju, host city of the annual Jeonju International Film Festival (JIFF), for gastronomy, with Gwangju joining Monday with a "City of Media Arts" designation from UNESCO.