JEAN NOH, SCREEN INTERNATIONAL: You are one of PIFF's founding members. How did it all start'
It all started in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when I was a professor at Kyung-sung University in Busan. I used to get together on the beaches of Gwang-an-li after classes with a group that included Jay Jeon, Kim Ji-seok, Lee Choong-Jik (who was later chairman of the Korean Film Council and is a film professor at Chung-Ang University) and Park Kwang-su (current head of the Asian Film Market). This was back when film academics were even less developed in Korea.
After visiting several international film festivals, we dreamed of launching one of our own. Kim Ji-seok put together a proposal, and the whole plan came together when I met with Kim Dong-ho in August 1995 and he agreed to head the festival. He was the one who brought around the critical government officials and regional leaders, and raised more funding that we had ever thought (possible). It was an auspicious start.
JN: Now there is talk of Kim Dong-ho's retirement, and you have been named the new co-director. Are you being positioned to take his place'
I wouldn't really want that to happen. As much as I love the festival, I've been brought up to be an educator.
Ideally, we would like to keep Mr Kim as a lifetime director, but that's just a wish of ours. Last year, he had something of a health crisis. He got over it, but it made us realise we were doing him a grave disservice - driving him to the detriment of his health. So we're dividing the load.
We've asked him to stay on and cultivate the next generation until we've found an alternative, whether in one person or in the group system we've created for the moment. This includes programmers Jay Jeon (who has been named a new co-deputy director), Kim Ji-seok, co-deputy director Ahn Sung-ki, and Park Kwang-su heading up the market.
Mr Kim has agreed to stay on at least until the Piff Media Center is finished. I think he can still do at least another 10 years. We're all here to support him.
JN: What kind of issues do you think the festival is facing, and what is your vision for the future of Piff'
We started the festival as part of a cultural movement, so Koreans could see more cultural exchange and find mutual respect with other Asian countries and around the world. That's why you're seeing so many new initiatives such as the Balcon or Asian Cinema Fund. We want to continue and expand our role of discovering and supporting independent Asian cinema, and to give back to the audiences here in Korea year-round.
We talk of the Korean Wave, but what have we really done for the rest of Asia' And how much access do we have to non-Hollywood and non-local cinema here' This is what we have to deal with in Piff's second decade - bringing more diverse forms of culture to Korea, and helping build networks in Asia to cultivate cinema. The financial and business considerations of these endeavours will also require a lot of attention in the next coming years.
Besides being a film professor at Chung-Ang University, publishing more than a dozen works on cinema, hosting TV shows on film and chairing or consulting on other minor film festivals, newly designated co-festival director Lee Yong-kwan has also been senior programmer at Piff (1996-99), the festival's deputy director (2000-06), vice-chairman of the Korean Film Council (1999-2002) and head of the Cinematheque Busan (2002-04).