Festival directors scout Pusan titles


More news from the Pusan fest

BUSAN, South Korea -- Two films premiering at Pusan have been selected to go on to Rotterdam, building on the relationship between Asia's largest film festival and its older international peers.

"Flower in the Pocket," the debut feature by Liew Seng Tat of Malaysia, and "God Man Dog" from Singing Chen of Taiwan were selected for the Rotterdam Film Festival, programmer Gerwin Tamsma said Sunday.

With the festival now in its 12th year, the South Korean beach resort town is crawling with festival programmers from around the world who view it as one of the best places to find the next great film from the world's fastest-growing region.

Tiziana Finzi, head of programming at the Locarno Film Festival, said Pusan is one of her favorite festivals for its "beautiful organization and the chance to see the latest Korean pictures."

Finzi and Nadia Dresti, head of the Locarno industry office, share PIFF director Kim Dong-ho's taste for radical Asian films and proudly host a PIFF reception in Switzerland each August.

In August, the Locarno jury gave the best photography award to "Boys of Tomorrow," by Korea's No Dong-seok, which Finzi first saw at Pusan in 2006.

Sundance Film Festival director Geoffrey Gilmore said he has seen 25 films so far in what he called a "solid year for Pusan. Not brilliant, but solid. I'm still looking for those two or three gems."

It's no secret that it's been a down year for Korean film, but Pusan is trying hard to keep exciting the world about the Asian industry, Gilmore said.

"This is the most important film festival in Asia in terms of presenting a spectrum of work. They provide real service to those they know," added Gilmore, who has taken films from Korea and China to Sundance after first seeing them at Pusan each of the last several years. "I'm one of the lucky few."

Relationships do matter, and Pusan's with the Dutch city of Rotterdam goes way back. Former Rotterdam festival director Simon Fields advised Pusan from its inaugural edition in 1995, helping model the Pusan Promotion Plan for project development after Rotterdam's Cinemart, Tamsma said.

This year, both "Flower" and "God" were on Rotterdam's radar before Pusan.

"As the festival world becomes increasingly global, DVDs travel fast," said Tamsma, a beneficiary of a formal knowledge-sharing relationship with Pusan.

In 2006, Malaysian film "Lover Conquers All" won the New Currents award at Pusan and went on to win a Tiger award at Rotterdam, where the festival itself picked up distribution rights for the country's dense network of art house theaters.