Chinese-Korean co-productionGrain In Ear and Korean independent film The Unforgiven dominatedthe awards at the tenth edition of the Pusan International Film Festival (Oct6-14).

Zhang Lu's Grain In Ear, which premiered in the Critics Week section at Cannes earlier this year, picked up the $30,000 NewCurrents Award for first and second-time Asian directors, which is the highestprofile award given by the festival. The film depicts the life of aKorean-Chinese single mother who makes a meagre living by operating an illegalkimchi stand.

A five-member jury headed byIranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami praised the film for "the director's consistentstrength, uncompromising story and superb acting."

Meanwhile The Unforgiven,director/actor Yoon Jong-bin's feature debut about the dehumanising effect ofKorea's mandatory two-year military service, picked up three major awards: theFIPRESCI Award for best new Asian film, the NETPAC Award for best Koreanfeature, and the $10,000 PSB Audience Award for the most popular film in theNew Currents section.

With its largest programmeever of 307 films and with almost twice the number of screens as last year'sedition, the festival drew a record crowd of 192,970 admissions with 68% ofavailable seats sold. A total of 7,647 local and international guests and pressmembers attended the event.

A general consensus amongvisiting critics was that although the programme offered up a number ofpromising debut works such as The Unforgiven and Cho Chang-ho's ThePeter Pan Formula, there were no major standouts among the festivalpremieres.

Perhaps the strongest buzzcentered around the retrospective screenings of Koreandirector Lee Man-hee (1931-75), whose works have rarely screened to foreignaudiences.

In addition to the officialawards, local distributor CJ Entertainment picked up local distribution rightsto five Asian features as part of its "CJ Collection", now in its secondyear. The films are Be With Me (Singapore) by Eric Khoo, Citizen Dog (Thai) by WisitSasanatieng, Midnight My Love (Thai) by Kongdej Jaturanrassamee, MongolianPing Pong (China) by Ning Hao and Poet Of The Wastes (Iran) by Mohammad Ahmadi.

PIFF 2005 Awards:

New Currents Award ($US30,000):
Grain In Ear (China/S Korea), dir. Zhang Lu

First special mention:
Silent Holy Stone (China), dir. Wanma Caidan

Second special mention:
The Unforgiven (S Korea), dir. Yoon Jong-bin

The Unforgiven (S Korea), dir. Yoon Jong-bin

The Unforgiven (S Korea), dir. Yoon Jong-bin

PSB Audience Award:
The Unforgiven (S Korea), dir. Yoon Jong-bin

Woonpa Fund Award forbest Korean documentary:
Tea & Poison, dir. Joung Yong-ju

Sunje Fund Award for bestKorean short film:
A Bowl Of Tea, dir. Kim Young-nam