At a time when the whole world’s attention was focused on the threat of a nuclear North Korea, the film world gathered  in what is known as the main cinematographic event in the whole of Asia , the PIFF, which had  its 11th edition from October 12 to 20th, in Pusan (or Busan), Souh Korea. Although it was launched quite recently, by older standards like Cannes or Venice, Pusan has rapidly become THE most important festival in Asia, overcoming Tokyo, which comes right after it. This is mainly due to the will of the political and economical responsible persons in South Korea, and to the energetic passion of its founder-director, KIM Dong Ho. The Pusan  festival has a face. In addition to the film festival itself, Pusan is famous for its other component, the PPP (Pusan Promotion Plan, roughly based on the Rotterdam model), which gives cash awards to Korean and international film directors for their next projects.This year, the awards went to Hong Kong director Pang Ho Cheung, for One day of Ibraham, Korean director Lee Myung Se, for “M”, and first-time helmer Lee Jong Hoon. Pusan alos hosted for the first time an Asian film Market, which might topple soon the Hong Kong Film Market, held  in March.

As the PIFF showed 245 films from 63 countries (10 sections) . we are not going to review eveything, mission impossible.Let’s concentrate rather on some oustanding films which gathered the main awards from different juries  and funds.The most coveted prizes , for the New Currents section, awarded by a jury chaired by veteran Hungarian director Istvan Szabo, went to newcomer Yang Heng, from China, with his debut film, Betelnut, a very personal view of the gloomy fate of two young delinquents.It shared the award with another debut film, Love conquers all, the story of a village girl going to the city with all the expected problems, directed in (s)low key by young female Malaysian director, Tan Chui Mui. Her film also won the Fipresci prize. As for the Netpac award, it went to The Last dining table (Majirak Babsang), a first feature by Korean dircetor ROH Gyeong Tae, with an impressively personal vision of lower-class people in Korea to-day.

Among the many sections of the PIFF, one is always worth following, i.e. the historical retrospective, dedicated this year to some Korean films of the Japanese colonial era, recently rediscovered and renovated by the Korean Film Archive ( Kofa). Out of seven rare films shown, at least four are to be mentionned: Anchor Light , directed by Ahn Chul Young (1939), and supervised by famous Japanese director Yasujiro Shimazu; Angels of the streets, a moral story of lost and reeducated street children, directed by Choi In Gyu (1941); Straits of Chosun , a romantic love and war story by Park Ki-Chae (1943);and especially, Spring of Korean Peninsula (1941), an amazing insight of the Korean film world of that period, swiftly directed byLee Byung Il. There was also, out of the section, a rare film by famed director Shin Sang Ok, The Arch of Chastity (1962), a beautifully made period film.

Of course, Pusan is also the ideal festival to catch up with the main Asian and world films recently shown in major film fetivals, like the latest opus by Tsai Ming Liang, Murali Nair, Garin Nugroho (the beautiful Jawa Opera), Apitchapong Weerasethakul, Mohsen Makhmalbaff, Hirokazu Koreeda, Hong Sang Soo, Jeffrey Jeturian, and so many others.

All this definitely contributes to design Pusan as a “must” for filmbuffs, critics, producers, directors, and practically everyone who can go there,  in the mild weather of October,  in the south of South Korea.