Busan to Open With Taiwanese Drama 'Paradise in Service'

Doze Niu /Courtesy Ablaze Image
2014 BIFF opener "Paradise in Service"

The war film by Doze Niu is among 314 films from 79 countries to be invited to the South Korean film festival

The 19th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) will open on Oct. 2 with the international premiere of Paradise in Service, a Taiwanese war romance directed by Doze Niu and produced by Hou Hsiao-Hsien.

The film, by the director of Love and Monga, is about a young soldier's struggles amid military conflicts between China and Taiwan in the 1960s and 1970s. The film's portrayal of modern history is evocative of 1980s New Wave Taiwanese films, as it depicts the pain of separated families and women's issues such as prostitution within military camps.

BIFF, which will run through Oct. 11 in the South Korean city of Busan, will close with the world premiere of Hong Kong's Gangster Pay Day. Director Lee Bo Cheung's new style of gangster tale presents a unique hybrid of comedy and melodrama without the tragic beauty of actioners.

This year's event will invite 314 works from 79 countries, a slight increase from the 301 films from 70 countries that were screened in 2013.

"The hike in the number of films can be attributed to the fact that we have included films from a more diverse range of Asian countries, such as Nepal," said festival director Lee Yong-kwan. "We will continue to help discover and present works from a wider range of countries."

Last year, BIFF drew attention for spotlighting obscure film industries such as that of Bhutan (opener Vara: A Blessing by Khyentse Norbu), and this year's edition has also invited titles from countries such as Bangladesh, Iraq, Lebanon and Nepal.

Festival-goers will be able to enjoy films from non-Asian regions that are rarely shown in Korea.

There will be special showcases on Turkish independent cinema and in time for the industry's centennial, as well as Georgian women filmmakers. The latter in particular includes A Story of Mountainous Racha, a piece dating back to 1930 by the country's first female director, Nusta Gogoberidze, to works by leaders of the Georgian New Wave today, including Gogoberidze's granddaughter, the producer/filmmaker Salome Alexi.

International guests slated to attend the festival include filmmakers Bela Tarr (this year's head of the Asian Film Academy), Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Zhang Yimou, Asghar FarhadiBong Joon Ho and Anna Hui (who will be awarded 2014 Asian Filmmaker of the Year), as well as actors Ken Watanabe, Moon So-ri, Ahn Sung-ki, Tang Wei (who recently married Korean director Kim Tae-yong) and Chang Chen.

Meanwhile, the Asian Film Market and Asian Project Market will be held Oct. 5-8.