A Window on Asian Cinema By Nirmal Dhar
by Nirmal Dhar
In spite of the rain, the 12th Pusan International Film Festival started off well on 4th October evening with the international premiere of the Chinese block-buster Assembly by Feng Xiaogang based on the true story of Captain Guzidi who lost his whole battalion in the battle of Pulai. This spectacular war drama set the ball of Asian cinema rolling in Pusan for the next 8 days with 100 Asian premieres (most of them are from Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Malaysia) and 26 international premiers. Among the distinguished guests were Hou hsiao-hsien, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Peter Greenaway, Dariush Mehrjui, and Volker Schlöndorff, all of them gave master classes.
This year there was also a huge Asian film market, where a large number of buyers and distributors were present from different Asian countries and Europe. The Asian Film Academy selected 24 artists from 15 Asian countries to receive training; the Asian Cinema Fund supported 26 documentaries. In addition there were two Korean retrospectives — seven of the old master-actor Kim Seung-ho’s films were screened as well as the earliest Korean films. Other sections included “Gala presentation” with Hou hsiao-hsien’s French film Flight of the Red Balloon (Le voyage du ballon rouge), Im Kwon-taek’s Beyond Years (Chun nyun hack), Royston Tan’s 881 and Lee Myung-se’s M. The “Flash Forward” section proposed 11 significant documentaries nit from Asia but from Europe, Australia and Africa.
In “The New Current” section, eleven films were shown to the main jury (Dariush Mehrjui, Goran Paskaljevic, Lee Chang-dong, Cristian Mungiu and the Chinese actress Nan Yu) and the FIPRESCI jury in the multiplex Megabox. I was particularly impressed in our section by Tribe (Tribu) by Jim Libiran from the Philippines, which depicted the raw life of Manila slums where life and death, love and violence exist together without any pretensions or preconceived notions.
The curtain came down on the festival with the Japanese animation film Eva: 1.0: You are (Not) Alone, a new theatrical version of Neon Genesis Evangelion which started as a TV animation series in 1995 and remains immensely popular over a decade.