Friday, October 15, 2010

The best and worst of international film

Last Thursday, the 15th annual Pusan International Film Festival opened in Busan.   

Also known as PIFF, the festival runs for a week each October.  This year, 308 movies from all over the world will be showcased. 

Curious about all the hype, I scoured the titles and blurbs on the PIFF website to see what sounded interesting.

Saturday was chosen as movie day, since the two movies we were most interested in (“Late Autumn”, and “A Woman”) would be shown back to back.  Both had already sold out online, so we headed to the box office at Shinsegae early, hoping to beat the crowds and score two of the remaining twenty percent of the tickets, reserved for purchase the day the movie is shown.

We joined the crowd at 7:30 am, one hour before the box office opened.  There were at least a hundred would-be movie goers in front of us.   

We hoped they didn’t have their sights set on the same movies we did.  Luckily, we brought entertainment.

Unfortunately, “Late Autumn”, which sold out online in five seconds, also sold out at the box office in five minutes.  When we heard the announcement, we realized we had to choose a back up.  Preparing for this situation, I had hastily written down the names of some other titles that sounded half decent.

At 9:30, we reached the front and managed to snag tickets to “A Woman,” and also those for back up plan, “Desert.”   

We chose the latter since its time slot was convenient, and at one point I’d thought it looked worthwhile based on its description.

Funny how wrong one can be.

After a hike to a second movie theater and a quick snack, we found our seats and prepared for the world premiere of “Desert.”  We later decided that in this case, “Desert” must refer to the verb, as in: to leave.  That’s what everyone did, to this sad, and unfortunate pregnant woman.  We kept waiting for something, (anything!) to happen in the movie.  It never did.

“There’s no way that could have been worse,” Ryan said as we left the theater. 
I pointed out that it could have been longer…

Back to the subway we went, arriving at Shinsegae again for our second movie of the day.  We both agreed that anything would be better than what we’d just seen. 
Fortunately it was.

“A Woman” is the story of a novelist (Willem Dafoe) who invites a young woman he meets in New York to live with him in Italy.  She agrees, but upon her arrival she becomes obsessed with his dead wife.

With five minutes left until the international premier was set to start, in strolled Willem Dafoe himself, with his wife, the film’s director Giada Colagrande on his arm.

Following the movie, both star and director answered questions.  Suddenly our second row seats were a good thing.  Our camera's battery died at the moment the couple and their interpreters took the stage.  I managed to get this one dark, blurry photo.

As we left the theater, we inadvertently met two couples that had gone to Oregon, graduating a year before we did, now also teaching in Korea.  The green “O” beanie one guy sported was the giveaway.  The six of us traded travel stories and chatted about how to catch the Duck games overseas.  Our best advice to them was that they avoid “Desert.”

What a small (and entertaining) world.

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