BUSAN, 6 October (BelTA -Yonhap News). - The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) kicked off its 10-day run Wednesday with a tightly packed opening ceremony, returning in full force after two years of scaled-down events.
Celebrities in lavish dress posed for photos to claim the spotlight of the night and then walked the red carpet in front of shouting fans, who filled up about 5,000 open theater seats at the Busan Cinema Center in the southeastern port city of Busan.
The opening ceremony, co-hosted by South Korean actors Ryu Jun-yeol and Jeon Yeo-been, was in a festive mood, as it was held in full scale for the first time in three years since the pandemic. Tickets were sold out for the opening night, according to the organizer.
BIFF director Huh Moon-young said this year's edition aims to attract a nearly pre-pandemic level of audience with a complete lineup of screenings, meet-and-greet events for fans and community events.
"Although we want a 100 percent recovery to the pre-pandemic level, (we) expect 80-90 percent of recovery compared with 2019, considering there are still people who are reluctant to come to theaters," Huh said during a press conference.
The 27th BIFF opened with the international premier of Hadi Mohaghegh's Iranian drama film "Scent of Wind" and wraps up on Oct. 14 with Japanese director Ishikawa Kei's "A Man," staying true to its origin as a bridgehead to promote Asian films by talented directors to the world.
The latest edition features 243 films from 71 countries, including 89 world premieres and 13 international debuts.
The 2022 selection will be screened at seven theaters in Busan, whose seats are available at their full capacity without social distancing restrictions. Movie viewers are still required to wear masks indoors.
This week, meet-and-greet events for fans with their favorite movie stars and directors are scheduled in various settings to spice up the festive mood.
Hong Kong legend Tony Leung Chiu Wai is set to attend the Asian Filmmaker of the Year Award on Thursday and have career-spanning talks with audience members Friday. The festival will feature six films selected by the actor, including "In the Mood for Love" (2000), "Infernal Affairs" (2002) and "2046" (2004).
Gala Presentation, which introduces new projects of the world's renowned filmmakers, will be dedicated to European films -- "Nobody's Hero" by Alain Guiraudie from France and "Scarlet" by Pietro Marcello from Italy.
BIFF will also premiere 15-minute video footage of "Avatar: The Way of Water," the sequel to James Cameron's Avatar, ahead of its global release in December. Jon Landau, the film's co-producer, will provide a discussion on the movie.
After being introduced last year with three selections, the "On Screen" section returns with nine new TV dramas by global streaming platforms this year to offer visitors rare chances to watch streaming series on the big screen prior to their release.
Among them are Netflix's new Korean-language original "Glitch" by rising Korean director Roh Deok, and "Yonder," local streaming platform Tving's upcoming sci-fi drama directed by acclaimed Korean filmmaker Lee Joon-ik.
Japanese director Takashi Miike's first Korean-language project, "Connect," a Disney+ original, will also be unveiled at the On Screen section.
This year, 20 movies, including "A Wild Roomer" by Korean director Lee Jeong-hong, "Shivamma" by Jaishankar Aryar from India and "Thousand and One Nights" by Nao Kubota from Japan, will vie for "New Currents," a main competition section for emerging talents.
A new competitive section titled "Jiseok," named after late BIFF program director Kim Jiseok, will give awards to select works of established Asian filmmakers among eight nominees, including opening film "Scent of Wind."