The 14th Pusan International Film Festival closes today (Oct 16) with the top New Currents award going to Shawkat Amin Korki’s Kick Off and So Sang-min’s I’m In Trouble.

The inaugural Flash Forward award went to Zaida Bergroth’s Last Cowboy Standing.

The New Currents jury, headed by French filmmaker Jean-Jacques Beneix, and also including Kim Hyung-koo, Penek Ratanaruang, Territ Kwan and Yesim Ustaoglu, noted that the competition films showed a certain darkness and uncertainty about the future, but also a concern for the era we live in and the meaning of humanity and values.

One of the few buzz films of the festival, I’m In Trouble, humorously follows a young poet’s wanderings while he delays joining the workforce. The film is a graduation project from the Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA)’s Advanced Program, which started producing feature films last year – including Members Of The Funeral which was another PIFF buzz film and winner in 2008.

Kick Off follows a Kurdish Iraqi community as it gears up for an inter-community football game. The jury described it as a “simple movie and yet full of imagination and strength” which “consecrates the emergence of a director whose talent is unanimously greeted by the jury.”

Headed by veteran actress Kang Soo-yeon, the Flash Forward jury commented that Last Cowboy Standing’s “overall storytelling, acting and directing is carefully constructed and shows the subtlety of a female director, as well as strong mise-en-scene” and also lauded the director’s potential.

The festival screened a record 355 films with stronger star power than usual – with guests including Josh Hartnett, Tilda Swinton, Lee Byung-hun and Jang Dong-gun.

Second-time director Park Chan-ok’s Paju was the standout of the festival, but only took the NETPAC award.

PIFF, which brands itself as a festival of discovery, continues to have strong points and weak points. It boasts enthusiastic audiences, high-profile guests and is a key event to network and have conversations about films and business.

But the general atmosphere this year was subdued – partly because guests had to contend with the logisitics of events and screenings split between three areas – Nampo-dong, Haeundae Beach and the new Centum City shopping area.

PIFF 2009 Full List of Awards:

1. New Currents Award:

Kick Off – Shawkat Amin Korki (Iraq, Japan)

I’m In Trouble –  So Sang-Min (Korea)

*Special Mention: Squalor – Giuseppe Bede Samperdro (Philippines)

2. Flash Forward Award:

Last Cowboy Standing – Zaida Bergroth (Finland, Germany)

*Special Mention: Miss Kicki – Hakon Liu (Sweden, Taiwan)

3. Sonje Award for Short Films:

Somewhere Unreached – Kim Jae-won (Korea)

Rare Fish – Basil Vassili Mironer (Singapore, Indonesia)

4. PIFF Mecenat Award for Documentaries:

Earth’s Woman – Kwon WooJung (Korea)

The Other Song –Saba Dewan (India)

5. FIPRESCI Award:

Kick Off – Shawkat Amin Korki (Iraq, Japan)

6. NETPAC Award:

Paju – Park Chan-ok (Korea)

7. KNN Movie Award (Audience Award):

Lan – Jiang Wenli (China)

The 14th PIFF Final Statistic Data

Total admissions: 173,516

Accredited Guests (Press excl): 6,400

Korea: 3,178

Overseas: 860

Cinephiles: 1,388

Asian Film Market: 974

Press: 2,202

Korea: 1,832

Overseas: 370


Number of Films: 355

World Premieres: 98

International Premiere: 46

Total amount of Screenings: 803