Korea's largest and most prestigious celebration of cinema, the 17th Busan International Film Festival, kicked off on Thursday. A total of 304 films from 75 countries will be screened at 35 cinemas in the southern coastal city until Oct. 13.
The opening ceremony took place from 7 p.m. in the outdoor theater of the Busan Cinema Center and was attended by over 100 leading actors. Korea's Ahn Sung-ki and China's Tang Wei hosted the ceremony.
Over 20 guests from outside Korea, including Hungarian film director Bela Tarr, the head of the jury for the New Currents section, were present. More than 5,500 seats in the outdoor theater were packed and the atmosphere became even more highly charged thanks to the arrival outside of more than 2,000 Busan citizens, as well as throngs of film fans from other countries in Asia and beyond.
The stars started to come out on the red carpet from 6:20 p.m. Among those who arrived to thunderous applause were Lee Byung-hun and Jung Woo-sung, and Japanese director Koji Wakamatsu, who has been named Asian Filmmaker of the Year at this year's festival.
Busan Mayor Hur Nam-sik, the chairman of the organizing committee, said while declaring the opening of the festival that, "We prepared a more diverse program this year as we bid to become a world class film festival beyond Asia."
"Cold War," the opening film from Hong Kong, revolves around rivals within the same police precinct who collude with criminal organizations, and the festival will close with a Bangladeshi film, Mostofa Sarwar Farooki's "Television."
When the event wraps up, two films by young Asian directors will pick up the New Currents Awards, along with prize money of $30,000 each, and one non-Asian film will receive the Flash Forward Award and the same financial reward.