The Pusan International Film Festival has released the lineup for its 8th edition (October 2-10) featuring 244 films in all, with a strong focus on Asian cinema.

Opening the South Korean festival will be the international premiere of Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Doppelganger, a philosophical thriller about a man who meets his alternate self. Another arthouse-skewed genre film, horror title Acacia by Korean director Park Ki-hyung, will receive its world premiere as the closing film.

Special sections will be devoted to films on Afghanistan, Chinese Independent Films, Spotlight on Canadian Cinema 1986-2003, and a tribute to the late poet and director Forough Farokhzad, known as the "big sister" of contemporary Iranian cinema. In addition, the annual Korean Cinema Retrospective will focus on Chung Chang-hwa, who directed numerous action and genre films in Korea before taking up residence with Hong Kong's Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest from 1968-1978.

Notable world premieres at the festival include The Missing -- the directorial debut by Taiwanese actor Lee Kang Sheng, best known for his collaborations with director Tsai Ming Liang -- and Hard Luck Hero by Japanese director Sabu.

Among the Korean selection, audiences will get a first glance at Lee J-yong's period drama Untold Scandal, based on French novel Dangerous Liaisons; traditional musical Ogu: Hilarious Mourning by theatre director Lee Youn-taek, horror film The Uninvited by debut director Lee Su-yeun, sci-fi blockbuster Natural City, and Jeon Soo-il's French-Korean co-production My Right To Ravage Myself, about a man who assists others with suicide.

Various other ceremonies and seminars are scheduled to take place in the festival proper, apart from the industry events in the PPP and BIFCOM which have fueled much of the festival's growth (see Screendaily, August 29). A hand printing ceremony will be held for directors Jan Troell (Sweden), Lucian Pintilie (Romania), and Chung Chang-hwa (Korea) to honor their lifetime achievements, and a special Korean Cinema Award will be presented to Park Byung-yang and Lee Bong-ou for their efforts to promote Korean films in Japan.

Finally, Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf will receive the festival's inaugural "Asian Filmmaker of the Year Award" for an individual who has advanced film industry and culture over the past year.

New Currents Competitive Section, PIFF 2003

15 (Singapore), Royston Tan
Dancing In The Dust (Iran), Asghar Farhadi
An Estranged Paradise (China), Yang Fudong (int'l premiere)
The Floating Landscape (HK), Carol Lai
Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women (India), Manish Jha
One Night Husband (Thailand), Pimpaka Towira
The Only Sons (China), Gan Xiao'er (world premiere)
Osama (Afghanistan), Sedigh Barmak
River (Japan), Takayuki Suzui (world premiere)
The Road Taken (S Korea), Hong Ki-seon
The Missing (Taiwan), Lee Kang Sheng (world premiere)
Tiny Snowflakes (Iran), Alireza Amini
Uniform (China), Diao Yinan (world premiere)