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October 17, 2009

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Filmmakers honored in Pusan

AN Iraqi-Japanese film about Kurdish refugees living in a dilapidated football stadium during Saddam Hussein's rule and a South Korean movie that follows a young poet's messy relationships won the top prize at the Pusan International Film Festival yesterday.

The US$60,000 new currents award for young Asian filmmakers went to Shawkat Amin Korki's "Kick off" and So Sang-min's "I'm in Trouble," organizers said on the last day of the nine-day festival in South Korea. The festival always names two films as winners.

The jury, chaired by French director Jean-Jacques Beineix, said it enjoyed Korki's "realistic, unexpected and poetic, almost surrealistic, vision to depict the precarious and hard life of a Kurdish Iraqi community that takes refuge in a football stadium." The jurors said they were impressed by So's ability to "define his characters, control his story into very well elaborated long takes, which gives the movie a special tone."

Special mention went to Giuseppe Bede Sampedro's Philippine production "Squalor," which profiled four men living in Manila.

The other jurors were Turkish director Yesim Ustaoglu, Thai filmmaker Pen-ek Ratanaruang, actress Terri Kwan from China's Taiwan and South Korean cinematographer Kim Hyung-koo.

The new US$20,000 flash-forward award for young, non-Asian directors went to Zaida Bergroth's German-Finnish family drama "Last Cowboy Standing." Norwegian-Chinese director Hakon Liu's "Miss Kicki," about a young Western man who visits his father's home in Taiwan, won special mention.

Chinese director Jiang Wenli's "Lan" won the US$17,300 audience award.

The prize is bestowed to one of the films participating in the new currents award that is given the most points by general audience.

"Lan" is set in the era of "cultural revolution," and shows a young girl whose parents were thrown in jail and had to be raised under her grandfather's care.

The story revolves around the girl as she gets introduced to the world of gymnastics while other kids were seeking labor work in cities.


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