PIFF crowds part of draw for Europeans

EFP taking largest delegation ever to Pusan

LONDON -- The European Union-backed trade body European Film Promotion is jetting to the Pusan International Film Festival this year with a bigger artistic delegation than ever.

EFP, with cash backing from the EU's Media program, is shipping a 23-strong party of actors, directors, producers and one writer from 13 European countries to the event in the seaside Korean city. In the run-up, three more French representatives were added, signaling the interest drummed up by the festival.

The appeal of the event has much to do with the informed, intelligent and enthusiastic young audiences that snap up tickets.

"Young people in Korea are educated and understand difficult European movies, and audiences queue up at 9 a.m. to get tickets," EFP managing director Renate Rose said. "Our delegates enjoy the fact that the screenings for their movies are really full, and often directors we have taken in the past tell us it is rare to have such intelligent audiences attending."

Guests are scheduled to include Jean-Luc Godard's "favorite actress" Anna Karina, German director Emily Atef and Italian director Paolo Taviani. Two of the recent names added to the list are French director Claire Denis and Gallic actress Audrey Marnay.

For German director Dorothee Wenner -- whose documentary "Peace Mission," about the Nigerian film industry, will unspool during the shindig -- it's all about exposing those enthusiastic audiences to fresh topics.

"In Asia, they won't have heard of the Nigerian film industry, and as a socio-political filmmaker it is fantastic to see that a festival in Korea is ready to show and exhibit such movies from elsewhere in the world," she said.

Wenner agrees that part of the success of Pusan comes down to the enthusiasm of the audiences.

"There aren't many places in the world where you are asked for an autograph if you are a documentary filmmaker," she said, laughing. "It's a sign of appreciation of film and filmmaking."

Among the drawbacks for those going to Pusan for the first time is just how difficult it is to get there. "The first time I was invited, my travel agent didn't know where it was and I had to get a map out myself to find out," Wenner said.

Rose is not attending this year because she and her financial team are deep in negotiations with the EU over budgets for the next three years.