Asia's biggest film festival back in top form in 2022
Movie stars, directors and fans descended on South Korea's port town of Busan Wednesday as Asia's largest film festival returned at full power post-pandemic Jung Yeon-je AFP

Movie stars, directors and fans descended on South Korea's port town of Busan Wednesday as Asia's largest film festival returned at full power post-pandemic, with an Iranian film opening the event.

Top Korean actors and Asian stars including Hong Kong's legendary Tony Leung are set to attend the Busan International Film Festival, which opened with a red carpet event and will run until October 14.

South Korea has cemented its status as a global cultural powerhouse in recent years, thanks in part to the explosive success of the Oscar-winning film "Parasite" and the Netflix series "Squid Game".

But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Busan festival was reduced to a fraction of its usual scale in 2020, while last year's edition took place with a number of social distancing measures.

But the festival is back with no restrictions for 2022, with high-profile guests such as Japan's famed filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda flying in to discuss their latest projects.

"We feel fortunate to be able to play the role of Asia's best film festival again," festival director Huh Moon-young told reporters last month.

The festival will feature 243 movies from 71 countries, including 89 that will have their world premiere.

Hosts South Korea are well-represented, with K-pop megastar and actress IU joining Kore-eda to discuss their film "Broker" -- which was featured at the Cannes film festival earlier this year.

The festival opened with Iranian filmmaker Hadi Mohaghegh's "Scent of Wind", which tells the story of a father and a son -- both of whom have disabilities -- living in a remote village.

Celebrating Tony Leung

Hong Kong's acclaimed actor Tony Leung has been selected as the recipient of Busan's "Asian Cineaste of the Year" prize.

The festival will screen six films featuring Leung, who will be in Busan to receive the award and meet with festival goers.

Leung, 60, is best known for his collaborations with famed director Wong Kar-wai, and picked the six films himself -- which include Wong's "In the Mood for Love" (2000) and "Happy Together" (1997).

Other anticipated screenings include Korean-Canadian director Anthony Shim's "Riceboy Sleeps," which tells the story of a Korean immigrant single mother, said the festival's programmer Nam Dong-chul.

"The movie is expected to become the next 'Minari'," Nam said, referring to a 2020 drama about South Korean immigrants in the United States, which received rave reviews and a slew of awards, including the best supporting actress Oscar.

Four South Korean top stars -- Kang Dong-won, Han Ji-min, Lee Young-ae and Ha Jung-woo -- will meet with fans in Busan to talk about their life and work.

Japanese director Kei Ishikawa's drama "A Man" -- about a widow who discovers unexpected truths about her late husband -- will close the edition.

© 2022 AFP