Busan International Film Festival 2011: Asia's largest film festival gets a major makeover

Busan International Film Festival 2011: Asia's largest film festival gets a major makeover

Sun, sand and cinema make for one seriously fun soiree
That's BIFF, not PIFF, to you.

Kicking off this Thursday, Asia’s largest and most prestigious film festival is getting a major overhaul for 2011. For its 16th run, the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) has a new name -- Busan, not Pusan -- and much more.

No doubt the biggest addition in sheer size alone is the new home of the festival: the 32,137-square-meter Busan Cinema Center. Large and luminescent, the undulating structure, unveiled last Thursday, is a space-age interpretation of the ocean waves that wash onto the coast of this South Korean port city.

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Busan Cinema CenterThe new Busan Cinema Center, unveiled less than a week ago.
The new Cinema Center serves as the hub for all BIFF-related festivities, centering the event around the nearby Centum City mall and convention center, as well as Haeundae Beach. 

In past years, festival theaters and other sites were spread out across the city, with some venues as much as an hour apart in travel time. This year, with a total of 307 films on the reels from 70 different countries, moviegoers can expect less schlepping and more screenings.

Then there’s the new face of the festival. After 15 years at the helm, BIFF’s beloved silver-haired director Kim Dong-ho retired in 2010, receiving a fond farewell at the beginning of every screening that year with a red carpet walk in cute cartoon form.

Former festival co-director and film industry heavyweight Lee Yong-kwan is now the man in charge, and it’s up to him to begin a legacy that can also end in animated tribute.

BIFFIt wouldn’t be BIFF without Haeundae Beach. And yes, that is Willem Dafoe in the middle.
And movie mavens -- forget sitting back and relaxing. BIFF invites more audience participation this year with a full-scale “Citizen Reviewers” program that fest organizers say will allow everyday folks to “actively take part in the production of a cinema discourse.”

In layman’s terms, that means giving your own two cents through the Citizen Reviewers’ Award, which may or may not include a cash prize for the winning film.

So book those KTX tickets and have those smartphone cameras at the ready: it's D-2 until opening night.

Busan International Film Festival 2011

Annex 2-1, Yachting Center, 1393 Woo1-Dong, Haeundae-Gu, Busan
(부산광역시 해운대 및 남포동 일대)
+82 1688 0310
October 6-October 14
Prices: Opening/Closing ceremonies:  ₩20,000; General Screenings: ₩6,000; 3-D screenings: ₩8,000; Midnight Passion (3 movies back-to-back starting at midnight): ₩10,000원 

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Hannah Bae left the monuments of D.C. for Seoul’s newsrooms in 2007 armed with a Princeton-in-Asia fellowship and a whole lot of enthusiasm. In addition to her day job of editing breaking news, she spends her free time freelancing for such organizations as the AP, GlobalPost, the German Press Agency dpa, Wallpaper*, Nanoomi.net, TBS eFM radio and now CNNGo. 

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