Korean writer-director Hong Sang-Soo's third film, Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, was awarded best film and best script by Pusan Film Critics on Sunday night in a ceremony that coincides with Korea's 5th Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF).

The best director award went to Bae Chang-Ho for My Heart, while Daniel Byun was crowned best new director for Interview. Jeon Do-Yeon was judged best actress for her part in Happy End and Song Gang-Ho best actor for Joint Security Area/JSA, which is currently screening in local cinemas.

Although it's already had a local release, Interview is one of 11 films in PIFF's competitive "new currents" section which aims to pinpoint new talent throughout the region and includes films from Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Iran and China. Polish director Krzysztof Zanussi is chair of the section's jury.

Wang Shuo's debut Father was also intended to feature in the section but was withdrawn after the Chinese director failed to strike a print. The media were assured that its failure to appear had nothing to do with the ban placed on the film by the Chinese Government when it was finished in 1996.

Many international guests at PIFF and the pre-financing market that starts tomorrow (October 10), the Pusan Promotion Plan (PPP), have already been struck by the vibrancy of the festival. Jury member, India's Buddhadeb Dasgupta, whose Venice prize winner The Wrestlers opened the festival, said he was amazed to see cinema culture infiltrating the younger generation.

"There are hundreds of festivals but the most interesting are those which are linked to a local industry and those which are alive and developing," said French director Michel Ciment, also a jury member. "What we want to see in festivals is the state of cinema in that country. We are seeing fantastic development from Korean directors."