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BUSAN, South Korea - The Busan International Film Festival got underway tonight, opening the 16th version amidst great fanfare and change.

BIFF Opens to Great Fanfare

BUSAN, South Korea – The Busan International Film Festival got underway tonight, opening the 16th version amidst great fanfare and change.

The opening ceremony, hosted by actresses Uhm Ji-won and Ye Ji-won set the stage for the beginning of the nine-day movie extravaganza. In total, 307 films from 73 different countries will be screened.
Young fans wait to catch a glimpse of the stars before the opening of the 16th Busan International Film Festival.
The opening ceremony, which moved to the new Busan Cinema Center this year, featured the dawning of a new era for the festival, as Lee Yong-kwan takes over from 15-year festival director Kim Dong-ho, who retired last year. The new cinema, designed by Coop Himmelb(l)au's Wolf D. Prix drew rave reviews.
“The festival had been synonymous with Kim Dong-ho,” said the new director Lee Yong-kwan. "Having a new home and new name really symbolizes this great change. To be honest, making up for Mr. Kim’s absence is enormous pressure.”

Tsui Hark was also presented the Asian Filmmaker of the year award, while Julietta Sichel was presented with the Korean Cinema Award for her work promoting Korean Cinema in the Czech Republic.

There was also of course, the red carpet.

Hundreds of fans lined up as early as 7 a.m. to get the best glimpse of the stars as they paraded down the world’s longest red carpet. Local celebrities such as Ko-su and Han Hyo-joo graced the carpet to huge cheers.

Earlier in the day, before the official screening of the opening film Always, a fatal love story centered on ex-boxer Chul-min and telephone operator Jung-hwa, was a special screening for press, followed by a press conference with the director, So Ji-sub and co-star Han Hyo-joo.


Actor So Ji-Sub, star of the new film Always, directed by Song Il-gon, speaks at a press conference during the 16th Busan International Film Festival.

"We tried to deliver the warmth and honesty of such love,"  So said at the press conference which was attended by hundreds of journalists. Co-star Han Hyo-joo, said that "to smile as she embraced the life of a blind girl was one of the most difficult parts of her acting."

Highlights for October 7th

There’s plenty of events going on as the weekend kicks into high gear for the weekend.

* French actress Isabelle Huppert will deliver a lecture about her life and film philosophy in a “Master Class – My life, My film” at the Academy Room in the Busan Cinema Center at 3 p.m.

* There are three outdoor greeting events taking place. First, at 5:30, the director and cast of the movie Always, including So Ji-sub and Han Hyo-joo will take the stage, followed by Korean Director Ku Hye-sun and stars Nam Sung-gi and Ryu Duk-hwan at 7:30 p.m. talking about their movie Peach Tree. Finally, at 8:00 p.m., the cast of Sunny will round out the evening with director Kang Hyoung-chul.

* Philip Jablon will be speaking at the event Cinema:Talk beyond Theater about the Southeast Asia Movie Project in the Academy Room at the Busan Cinema Center at 6 p.m.

* Several exhibitions will also get underway. A Korean Wave photo exhibition by Gina Jung will take place at the BIFF Village, as well as a special photo exhibition on Isabelle Huppert at the Goeun Museum of Photography. At 10 p.m., there will also be a Korean Cinema Retrospective Night at the Grand Ballroom of the Paradise Hotel.

* At 6 p.m. on the Outdoor Stage at BIFF Village, indie group Sogyumo Acacia Band will be entertaining the audience with their unique sound on the beach.

* A Love Concert, hosted by Shinhan Bank, offers the audience an opportunity to enjoy both open cinema and a concert. The open concert guests include Lee Seung-hwan, Lee Eun-mi, BMK and Kim Bum-soo. The concert begins at 7 p.m. while the cinema, showing God’s Own Child, starts at 8:30. The event takes place at BIFF Theater, in the Busan Cinema Center.

* BIFF's official party also will be held, where movie lovers can enjoy the evening dancing away at Club Elune in the Paradise Hotel. The action gets underway at 9 p.m.

Story images courtesy of Ben Weller



About Jeff Liebsch

Jeff Liebsch has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Eurobasket, Tribal Football and Yonhap News. He can be followed on Twitter at @chevybusan.

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