Saturday, October 13, 2007

Goodbye to Busan

The fest is over and I am sitting in the Hong Kong airport waiting for a plane. This was my first trip to the Pusan International Film Festival and to Korea as well. I have to admit to coming away with more impressions of the festival than I do of the country. When you watch some 12 films over 4 days it doesn't really leave you much time to explore the surroundings. Next time I will definitely leave myself more of an opportunity to look around. Certainly everything was very positive - easy to get around - took the train back to Seoul to at least see a little of the countryside - everyone was very nice and I even ate a fair amount of the local food (and I admit that Korean is far from my favorite). Eating the food is a bit of a culinary experience. I went with a Korean friend to dinner and she spoke one sentence to the waitress and so I was a bit surprised when some 25 side dishes landed on our table. She must have just told her - bring everything - let's see what he will eat! I had no idea what any of these dishes were but most were actually pretty good and spicy. One other snap impression of Korea is that it is not a real bargain if you have US dollars - the dollar has fallen here like a wayward lady and people kind of look down on it now. Thank you George Bush.

I came away with a lot of impressions of the festival though - all of them good. Just the size of it is mind boggling for someone who helps put on a small festival every year. There are of course loads of films - but also many special events, seminars, parties, the film market, celebrations, celebrities and so forth. I heard that the festival hires some 200 people to make it work - some for the entire year and many others for a few months - and they work insane hours. My friend who was hired for two months worked an average of about 16 hours a day and would often have meetings at midnight. I think I will try and keep our festival nice and small! It all works like clockwork though and the hundreds of volunteers are everywhere to help you out - and some incredibly cute ones I have to say! On my last day I discovered the video room - where if you have a market pass you can sit in a booth and watch on dvd any film in the festival. If I had heard about this earlier I would have been stuck there like gum for the entire fest because there were still so many films I didn't get to see that I wanted to. I also met some really nice folks - the Variety reviewers Derek Elley and Russell Edwards, Mark Schilling who has a new book coming out on Nikkatsu action films that I got a copy of, Stephen Cremins from the Udine Festival and a bunch more - all of them very passionate about film and great to talk to.

Over the next whatever days I will endeavor to get up short reviews of all the films I watched over the last couple days - here are in theory the ones coming up - 881 (Singapore), Mukhsin (Malaysia), Funuke Show Some Love You Losers (Japan), Kamen Masked Rider: The Next (Japan), Asyl (Japan), Dai Nipponjai (Japan), Shadows in the Palace (Korea), My DNA Says I Love You (Taiwan) and Sukiyaki Western Django (Japan).

In the meantime, I wanted to fullfill two past promises:

A link to YTSL's magazine piece on the great Photo Shop Man in Hong Kong.

and some pictures I took of the Walk of Stars in Hong Kong with a few of those exciting hand prints!


eliza bennet said...

Great to hear that you have a nice time. Of course it looks like you were with a quality crowd.

Korean food is my second fave and they do bring lots of side dishes with every food (even at the malls).

As for love hotels (or yongwan as they are called), they are indeed a great deal - I actually stayed in one when in Seoul- but the downside is that there is no closet!!!

Anyway I can't wait to read your thoughts on the films you have seen, especially Sukiyaki Western Django which is the film I'd choose to watch if I get to pick only one among the films in this post.

Brian said...

Well I'll still take a spicy Indian or Thai curry any time over Korean food but it was pretty decent - esp. the barbecue meat and some soupy dish I had with beef and noodles in it.

So did your bed vibrate?

Sukiyaki was totally style over substance but with Miike that isn't a bad thing - very entertaining visually but it needed perhaps a bit more originality with the plot - but more later on about that. I think my favorites actually were 881 and Mukhsin - two films that really crawl up on you emotionally and stay there.