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(PIFF) Jury look for humanity, market prospects in Pusan film fest's Flash Forward section
By Kim Hyun
BUSAN, Oct. 9 (Yonhap) -- Humanity and prospects of market distribution will be some of the main criteria in selecting the winner of the Flash Forward section at the Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF), the jury said Saturday.

   Eleven films from Europe and Australia are vying for the US$20,000 Flash Forward award, dedicated to discovering new talents from non-Asian regions. The other PIFF competition section, New Currents, is for Asian films.

   "I think we are looking for raw talent in the filmmakers. I think we are looking for freshness in vision from these filmmakers," John Cooper, head of the jury and the Sundance Film Festival director, said in a press conference.

   Apart from rawness in style, the jury will also look for genuine humanity in the presented films. Alexey Popogrebskiy, a Russian director whose "How I Ended This Summer" won the Silver Bears at this year's Berlin Film Festival, said he hopes to discover human elements he had found in Korean director Lee Chang-dong's movies like "Peppermint Candy" and "Oasis."

   "The most essential thing to me is as a human being, not as a filmmaker, it is to find a very powerful human story," Popogrebskiy said.

   "Yeah, those (Lee's films) are very Korean films, but I'd not categorize them as Korean films. For me, those are very powerful films, they are very poignant ... like reading a good book."

   Lee Kwang-mo, the Korean director of "Spring in My Hometown," agreed that it is not their national origins but their cinematic essence that matters most.

   "We talk about Asian cinema, European cinema, but that's not what really matters. I think we have to move to the essence of cinema to be able to overcome the crises cinema now faces today," Lee said.

Jury members of the PIFF Flash Forward section: Lee Kwang-mo, Thomas Elsaesser, John Cooper, Jasmila Zbanic and Alexey Popogrebskiy (from L to R)

Thomas Elsaesser, a German film historian and professor at the Humboldt University of Berlin, noted the growing challenge that filmmakers face today in finding distributors. He will consider how the films can appeal to a wider audience at the festival, a key to reaching the market.

   "It used to be said that it is difficult to make a film. Nowadays, I think the most difficult thing for films is to get distribution and find an audience," Elsaesser said. "I think the jury has particular responsibility to think about the difficulty of reaching an audience beyond the festival."

   Elsaesser also said he was pleased to be a member of the jury, noting the PIFF reflects a power shift in the world cinema in favor of Asian films.

   "I'm pleased to be here because 20 years ago, the film world was Hollywood-Europe and the rest. ... It's now Hollywood-Asia and the rest," he said. "And our jury will reflect that change of power and balance of the world cinema. I'm excited to be part of that tremendous change."