The 17th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) announced its official line-up today with Bill Kong-produced police drama Cold War to open the fest with stars Tony Leung Ka-fai and Aaron Kwok in attendance. BIFF will close with Mostofa Farooki’s Bangladeshi satire Television.

Both films will be making their world premieres as part of the 304 films from 75 countries. Of these, 93 of films will be world premieres and 39 will be international premieres.

The previously announced New Currents and Flash Forward competition selections are all world and international premieres from first or second-time directors.

Festival director Lee Yong Kwan said: “Last year the Busan Cinema Center was opened in an unfinished state but this year will mark the first that we are able to utilise it properly. It’s our responsibility to make it an international landmark for screening good films. Happily, we have gotten a diamond sponsor this year and so won’t be stretched in the way of budget for our programming, operations and expanding our global network.”

This year’s BIFF budget is $10.45m (KW11.8bn), up from $10.27m (KW11.6bn).

“We have increased the festival period by a day this year, to close on Saturday and take advantage of two weekends and if it goes well, we might increase to the Sunday as well in future,” said Lee of the fest period which previously had been nine days long.

Gala Presentations include world premieres of Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s The Gardener – an Asian Cinema Fund (ACF) recipient film which the Iranian director shot in Israel; Chung Ji-young’s National Security; Jeon Soo-il’s El Condor Pasa, and Park Chul-soo’s B.E.D. Hur Jin-ho’s Dangerous Liaisons is set to add star power with actresses Zhang Ziyi and Cecilia Cheung to attend with actor Jang Dong-gun.

”A Window on Asian Cinema is a good opportunity to look at the past year’s works from renowned directors around Asia so this year we also have films from Abbas Kiarostami, Darezhan Omirbayev, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Garin Nugroho and others,” said executive programmer Kim Ji-seok.

The section includes world and international premieres of Filipino director Adolfo Alix Jr’s Kalayaan, Thai director Nonzee Nimibutr’s Distortion, Chinese director Zhang Yang’s Full Circle, Indonesian director Ifa Isfansyah’s The Dancer, Kobayashi Masahiro’s Japan’s Tragedy and Malaysian director James Lee’s If It’s Not Now Then When?

Other prominent films to show in A Window on Asian Cinema: Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Penance, Sono Sion’s The Land Of Hope, Lou Ye’s Mystery, Zhang Yuan’s Beijing Flickers, Edwin’s Postcards From The Zoo and two films from Brillante Mendoza: Thy Womb and Captive.

Kim credited the slow but steady build-up of Busan’s network through initiatives like the Asian Cinema Fund and the Asian Project Market for contributing to a strong line-up this year.

“For instance, opening film Television was a recipient of the Asian Cinema Fund’s script development and well as post-production support and also a former selection to the Asian Project Market,” he noted.

Kim Ki-duk’s recent Venice Golden Lion winner Pieta is amongst the Korean films which also include world premieres from Old Boy villain Yoo Ji-tae (Mai Ratima) and Untold Scandal director E J-yong (Behind The Camera).

This year’s Korean film retrospective focuses on the 1960s and 70s actor Shin Young-kyun with eight films such as the restored aviator classic Red Scarf (1964), directed by Shin Sang-ok, and period drama The Power For Ten Years (1964), directed by Im Kwon-taek.

The World Cinema section includes Pablo Berger’s Blancanieves, screening in Toronto and San Sebastian, Olivier Assayas’ Venice best screenplay award winner Something in the Air, the world premiere of Lee Isaac Chung’s Abigail Harm and the international premiere of Bille August’s Marie Kroyer.

The Wide Angle section of documentaries, shorts and animations includes world premieres of longtime documentary producer Kang Seokpil’s directorial debut Forest Dancing, Soda Kazuhiro’s Theatre 1&2, and Hubert Niogret’s documentary on King Hu. Other documentaries include Wang Bing’s Three Sisters and Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s award-winning 5 Broken Cameras, a recipient of Busan’s Asian Cinema Fund (ACF).

Special Programs in Focus include “Afghanistan National Film Archive: The Rise from The Ashes” – featuring films the archive’s employees dramatically hid and saved from the Taliban. This will be joined by “Poland in Close-up: The Great Polish Masters” and “The Eternal Travelers for Freedom: Sergei Parajanov and Mikhail Vartanov”. “Cinema Archeology” with restored films such as Soviet era Father Of a Soldier and Park Sangho’s Birth Of Happiness, will run in conjunction with this year’s Busan Cinema Forum which will talk about film restoration and preservation in the digital era.

BIFF will run Oct 4-13. In its second year in the Busan Cinema Center, the fest will be using that and three other cinemas in the Centum City neighborhood. BIFF is going back to its roots in a way, screening classics and holding events for senior citizens and children in the Nampo-dong area – the original site of the festival when it was called Pusan in 1996. The fest will also be using the Megabox cinema in Haeundae.

Asian Film Market

The Asian Film Market will take place Oct 8 -11 at the Busan Exhibition Convention Center (BEXCO) again, near the Busan Cinema Center. The market has seen a 7% increase on registered companies and organisations since last year - 170 from 33 countries. The previously announced Asian Project Market (APM) will showcase 30 projects.

In addition to Korean companies, exhibitors include Japan’s Toho, Toei and Gaga, North America’s Myriad Pictures, Cinema Management Group and Cinemavault, Hong Kong’s Distribution Workshop, Edko, Golden Network and for the first time Emperor and We Distribution. Thailand will open an umbrella stand for the first time. The European Film Promotion (EFP), Korean Film Council (KOFIC), Taiwan and the Philippines will also have umbrella stands this year, too.

“In particular, KOFIC will be collaborating with us in the market, opening the KOFIC Industry Forum. We believe this will be the first step in KOFIC’s growing contribution to the film industry and the Asian Film Market,” said Lee.