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South Korean stars take center stage at Busan International Film Festival

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The Busan International Film Festival kicked off on Wednesday with opening ceremony that featured stars such as Kim Yoo-jung. Photo by Yonhap
The Busan International Film Festival kicked off on Wednesday with opening ceremony that featured stars such as Kim Yoo-jung. Photo by Yonhap

BUSAN, South Korea, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- The 27th Busan International Film Festival kicked off Wednesday at full capacity for the first time in three years, with a gala opening ceremony featuring stars on the red carpet and a packed audience of some 5,000 fans.

Asia's largest international film festival, which runs through Oct. 14, will screen 243 films from 71 countries, including 89 world premieres.

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There are no COVID-19 social distancing restrictions at this year's event. Full seating is available at all screenings and events are returning to normal operations after two years of scaled-down programs.

Wednesday's opening ceremony, held in the outdoor theater of the Busan Cinema Center, was hosted by Ryu Jun-yeol, star of the recent sci-fi blockbuster Alienoid, and Jeon Yeo-been, star of the 2021 Netflix hit series Vincenzo.

BIFF opened with the international premiere of Iranian director Hadi Mohaghegh's Scent of Wind and will close on Oct. 14 with A Man by Japanese director Ishikawa Kei.

Among the international stars on hand this year is legendary Hong Kong actor Tony Leung, who will receive the Asian Filmmaker of the Year Award on Thursday. The festival features six of Leung's films, including Happy Together, In the Mood for Love and 2046.

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The host country is heavily represented with a lineup that includes premieres of anticipated films such as 20th Century Girl by Bang Woo-ri and The Boys by Chung Jiyoung.

South Korean streaming titles, several of which have been global blockbusters on Netflix and other platforms, are also seeing an expanded presence at this year's BIFF. Last year, the festival launched its "On Screen" section with three selections, but in 2022, nine streaming titles will be presented, including the world premieres of seven Korean-language series.

Among them are sci-fi thriller Glitch by director Roh Deok and the mystery Somebody by Jung Ji-woo, both slated to appear on Netflix.

Yonder, a sci-fi fantasy by renowned film director Lee Joon-ik, will be streamed globally on Paramount+, while Connect, Japanese director Takashi Miike's first Korean-language project, is a Disney+ original.

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