Thai thriller '13' lucky winner at PiFan awards

Thriller takes top nods; fest attendance on comeback trail

BUCHEON, South Korea -- Thai thriller "13" was the big winner as the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival handed out its awards Thursday, taking home the fest's two top prizes.

PiFan, Asia's biggest film festival devoted to fantasy and genre movies, boasted much improved attendance this year, returning to the heights it held before a struggle with the local city government three years ago forced a change in leadership and, for a time, a boycott by Korea's film community.

While final attendance figures are not in yet -- the festival continues through Saturday -- they are expected to be the strongest in years, perhaps reaching as high as 70,000. The festival also had 1,600 guests, including more than 150 from overseas, also up significantly from last year.

"13," directed by Chookiet Sakveerakul, won both the Best of Puchon prize, awarded by the Puchon Choice jury, and the European Fantastic Film Festival Federation Asian Award.

The EFFFF jurors, Mario Dormisky (president of Portugal's Fantasporto) and Guy Delmonte (founder of the Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Film), said that "13" showed a high quality of filmmaking, comparable to a big budget film, with good story and acting.

The best actor award was shared by Thomas Kretschmann and Thomas Huber, both from Martin Weisz's "Grimm Love." Best actress went to Charlene Choi for her work in Oxide Pang's "Diary."

The Puchon Choice jury also presented a special Jury's Choice award to Michael Rapaport for his role in "Special."

The Pruzio Citizen's Choice award, voted on by general audiences, went to Yamashita Nobuhiro's "The Matsugane Potshot Affair."

The best short film award, along with its prize of $5,000, went to "Juanito Under the Orange Tree," by Juan Carlos Villamizar of Colombia. The Jury's Choice for Short Film, meanwhile, went to "Sweat," by Na Hong-jin of South Korea.

The Citizen's Choice award for short film went to "The Eyes of Edward James," by Rodrigo Gudino of Canada. And the best Korean short film was won by Jang Hoon for "The Villains."