The Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF) kicked off its 12th edition last night with a rain-soaked but star-studded audience and Feng Xiaogang's Assembly as opening film.

Rain spattered down on enthusiastic fans cordoned off by police from the red carpet, where guests such as veteran actors Shin Sung-il, Kang Soo-yeon and Park Joong-hoon stepped up with younger generation stars including Ha Jung-woo, Daniel Henney, Jang Hyuk, Kim Ji-soo, Daniel Dae Kim, Malaysia's Pete Teo and Chinese actress Yu Nan.

Pusan's opening night proved the place to be for public relations as three South Korean presidential candidates paid homage to the fest, and local TV stars and celebrity designer Andre Kim made an appearance, in addition to the film stars.

Veteran Korean director Im Kwon-taek, Cannes fest head Thierry Fremaux, Singaporean director Roystan Tan, Media Asia head John Chong and Berlinale Forum head Christophe Terhechte also graced the scene.

Composer Ennio Morricone brought out the loudest cheers and applause as he made his way to his seat. Two of the maestro's pieces 'Gabriel's Oboe' from The Mission and 'Love Theme' from Cinema Paradiso were played by the Busan Symphony Orchestra.

With all the rain, traffic and fanfare, the opening ceremony started 50 minutes late but briskly stayed at 22 minutes in length - including the introduction of the New Currents Jury, headed by Dariush Mehrjui, performances of the two Morricone songs and fireworks.

Venice award-winning actress Moon So-ri emceed with her husband director Jang Joon-hwan (Save The Green Planet!), and announced this year's theme of 'Beyond Frames' which is in keeping with the festival's aim of transcending regional boundaries and cinematic genres.

PIFF also announced today's launch of the Green Mind Campaign - an anti-piracy campaign spearheaded by actors and filmmakers with the participation of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Ministry of Information and Communication, Busan Metropolitan City, Korean Film Council and Naver.

Director Feng Xiaogang was on hand with cast members including Zhang Hanyu and Deng Chao to introduce the premiere of his film. A departure for PIFF from the usual Korean opening film, Assembly drew favorable reviews as a choice for Opening Film but mixed reactions from the audience with its gritty warfare followed by a story of heroic redemption.

Founding festival director Kim Dong-ho was prominent on the stage last night with a speech and introductions of the jury members, while newly appointed co-fest director Lee Yong-kwan stayed quietly in the wings.

PIFF yesterday announced that the government of France has named Kim an Officier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres - a higher designation from the Chevalier title he received several years ago, in addition to the City of Paris Medal and the Deauville City Medal.