Wednesday, 13 October 2010

48 hours in Pusan

The Pusan International Film Festival is the biggest film festival in Asia, it is also in its' 15th year and has always been fertile ground for Thai independent film makers, the visionary founder Kim Dong Ho always a big supporter of Thai talent. We had spoken some time ago to Aditya Assarat and Pichai Chirathivat the executive producer for the former's film Hi-So which would be screening for the first time in Pusan to do a big alternative Thai party . . .the big party did not happen but instead I was flown out last minute to organise a small private dinner for the crew and their friends and supporters. Hereforth, my 48 hour adventure in Pusan and the Hi-So dinner.

sunrise at Incheon en route to Pusan

Honestly, I had absolutely no idea what to expect, I was told that there would be lots of screenings and lots of Soju, and a beach. What I did not expect were activities all around the place and a lovely seaside town with multiple containers as a structure which serves as a striking Pavillion for the PIFF. A lovely meeting point where Vitamin Water is there to cure all ailments from hangovers, to jet-lag to pure film viewing fatigue.

Korean beef at Hauendae market
P'Jeab, Ananda's manager took care of me and her uber-assistant Fiw. . . like all festivals and fashion weeks, the sleeping situation required some planning, on 3 hours' notice, there was not much planning time for me . . . thank goodness for Lee, P'Ping and P'Tongdee who saved me from squatting in a love motel.

My day was spent location hunting in lieu of watching films (very sad I did not get to see Karn's Eternity). . . I was introduced to a cool Korean producer, Hyung Joon who took me around and we even went to the lighthouses.

The evening took a lovely turn as I was adopted by Lee and his festival family and taken to dinner . . . so delicious
Fern with Ming Lee and another Malaysian director

followed by karaoke . . .the highlight being P'Juke's SOLO performance of Air Supply and later the males singing another Air Supply song (I had to step outside as it was a defo slit one's wrist moment) . . .

a table full of empty bottles later and 2 hours of (bad) singing was very very fun. I suppose like fashion week, film is so intense and there has to be some kind of outlet . . . and drinking soju at the Pusan Film Fest is obviously one. (it is a fashion week without heels basically, with more talking, less dancing, and potentially even more alcohol though the latter is debatable).

P'Ping, Karn (Eternity director), Anka and Christophe from Berlinale
Yuni and P'Juke
Outside of Karaoke

I passed a bondage Hello Kitty on the way home.

pink strip bar

Korean food is unique . . . apart from the fact that I cannot read anything that I am ordering and am obliged to just eat, it is rather scrumptious.

Pusan is also home to the largest department store in the world, Shinsegae that is where I watched Hi-So . . .
Shinsegae also where movies screened

The only film I got to watch was Hi-So. . . I liked it a lot - it was different, the first half nostalgic with billowing vistas and rather romantic colours, so calm it was almost hypnotic. . . it was the second half though, the lead actress full of passion and cheekiness, Ananda, though playing himself, a rather quirky version of himself was fantastic (in way the 2 halves balanced each other). In a way the film spoke a language not often told of what it feels like to be local yet international and exist without ever feeling like one is part of anything or any place yet being able to just "be". It was funny to see myself for 10 seconds too. The Q and A was great, good questions by the Koreans. And having watched the film for the first time, I am really happy that I am involved and felt rather honoured that they are letting me throw them their dinner.

Our Dinner was after Thai Night (weird party) and at the Paradise Hotel in the Japanese restaurant, Sakae . . . it was a proper sit down for 26 which got loud in true thai style, Aditya's speech had a one-liner worthy of being published (It is not money, it is freedom which is most valuable which P'Teng gave to us). 9ent came and filmed it interviewing some guests. It was fun to see Thais and Koreans and those not yet acquinted meeting. I think that is the whole point of dinner - tummies are filled and one has a good time, celebrating something definitely worth celebrating.

Then on to another party then more karaoke and then finally what became my favourite little watering hole in the wall called Minami. Met some interesting film festival personalities, there is quite a bit of integrity there I would say. For sure.

Our plans of a morning run on the beach and watching a last movie could not fight the late night soju and beers . . . Bibimbap saved me and a last walk along the boardwalk leaving Lee and Tongdee at a meeting for Past Love as I got on the airport Limo en route home concluded my 48 hours in Pusan.

My 3 hour layover in Incheon was made pleasant by a Bugolgi burger . . .and finally hitting Thai soil, all I could think was thank goodness for art fairs, music fests, fashion weeks and film festivals. I also love the whole creators in their element factor, the often sombre and serious auteurs having fun is definitely good for their health. As I have my little fashion week family, they have their film fest ones. Exhausting as they may be . . .they feed you with not only enough food and alcohol to last you a month of abstinance but food for thought and introduction to characters and experiences one would not otherwise have.

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