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(PIFF) Foreign visitors get taste of world films in PIFF
By Kim Hyun
BUSAN, Oct. 7 (Yonhap) -- The Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF), Asia's largest cinema event, is closely watched by the film industry, but it also offers a rare opportunity for foreign visitors to get a little taste of the entire world in the largely homogenous South Korea.

   "I'm really looking forward to watching 'Raavanan/Raavan' and 'The Old Donkey,'" Nilay Mehta, an Indian businessman working in Busan said, referring to Indian and Chinese movies presented by the film festival.
"Also, some of the movies I'd like to see are Korean movies because a movie is the best way to understand culture," Mehta said, watching the opening ceremony through an outdoor screen at the Suyeongman Yacht Stadium with his wife and child. "And an international festival brings the best of the best films with it."

   The PIFF organizers say about 13,000 foreign tourists visited Busan during last year's festival, which uses the city's old romanization for its name. A large portion of the foreign visitors, as many as 10,000, were Japanese drawn by the influx of Korean entertainment, which is popular in Japan.

   Hordes of Japanese middle-aged women screamed and applauded as celebrities walked on the red carpet and their faces appeared on the large screen.

   "We are a group of friends who love Korean dramas and study the Korean language together," Matsui Tsueko, 60, said, as her friends emphatically nodded in approval. Tsueko and her nine friends named Korean actors and singers they'd love to see in the festival, such as Won Bin, Lee Seo-jin, Ji Sung and the boy band Big Bang.

   "We always wanted to come, and finally we are here!" she said.

   The PIFF has put its major efforts in discovering and supporting young directors, and for Enrique Otero from Spain, the festival offered a rare international stage to promote his film.

   "If you want a lot of people to see your film, an international film festival is the best way to present it," said Otero, the director who presents his debut feature "Crebinsky" in the Flash Forward section.

   The 15th PIFF opened in this southern port city Thursday with Zhang Yimou's "Under the Hawthorn Tree," a Chinese love story set during the repressive Cultural Revolution.

   More than 300 movies, 103 of them world premiers, are to be screened in theaters along the scenic Haeundae Beach during its nine-day run.

   hkim@yna.co.kr
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