The 16th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) opened today (Oct 6) in the newly completed Busan Cinema Center with a star-studded red carpet and the world premiere of Song Il-gon’s Always.

Song and pan-Asian stars So Ji-sub and Han Hyo-joo stepped onto the red carpet with BIFF festival director Lee Yong Kwan to a roar of cheers from the outdoor cinema audience. The film’s tickets had sold out online in seven seconds.

Lee introduced the film as a “fatal love story […] inspired by Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights” and welcomed back the director who had won the New Currents award with Flower Island ten years ago.

The new dedicated venue also saw other stars and directors such as Jang Dong-gun, Odagiri Joe, Fan Bing Bing, Vikram, Wang Lee Hom, Kang Je-gyu, Hong Sang-soo, Kim Kee-duk, Jung Chang-hwa, and Amir Naderi greeted with everything from warm applause to excited screams from a multi-national audience.

Honorary festival director Kim Dong-ho stepped out in style, escorting the award-winning actress Isabelle Huppert on his arm.

Tsui Hark was awarded Asian Filmmaker of the Year and he thanked the festival director, the mayor, the people who supported him and his “lifelong partner Nansun Shi”, who was also present, for the honour of the award.

The New Currents jury, headed by Yonfan, was all on hand - Oh Jung-wan, Jiang Wenli, Olivier Pere, and Odagiri. Likewise the Flash Forward jury headed by Gillian Armstrong, also featuring Anamaria Marinca, Jeon Soo-il, Thomas Hailer, and Fridrik Thor Fridriksson.

The Busan Cinema Center’s LED-covered roof was showing full rainbow colors as the ceremony went on.

Actress Anamaria Marinca declared the Busan Cinema Center a wonder saying, “We have an opera house in Sydney but it’s nothing like this. I want to take it home!”

The fest will screen a total of 307 films from 70 countries with 135 international and world premieres. It will close Oct 14 with Chronicle Of My Mother, directed by Harada Masato and starring Yakusho Koji, Kiki Kirin and Miyazaki Aoi.