SEOUL - The Busan film festival will open with dance drama "Vara: A Blessing," the third film by Buddhist monk Khyentse Norbu, and the first time that the South Korean festival has not opened with either a local Korean or a Chinese film.
The event spans the gamut of Asian film-making. The festival (Oct. 3-12) will close with "The Dinner," a family melodrama that is the third film by Korea' Kim Dong-hyun and a movie that previously attended Busan's Asian Project market at development stage.
The competition selection ranges from single shot experimental movie "The Story of an Old Woman" by Kazakhstan's Alexey Gorlov, to road movies dealing with the theme of immigration in "Transit" by Philippines director Hannah Espia (Filipino immigrant workers' children in Israel), and "The Isthmus" by Thailand's Sopawan Boonnimitra and Peerachai Kerdsint (about Burmese workers in Thailand). It also includes New Currents' first ever Mongolian feature "Remote Control" by Byamba Sakhya and Indian director Girish Malik's Jal (Water, India).
The competition will be judged by a jury headed by Iranian woman director Rakhshan Banietemad, with Japanese director Aoyoama Shinji, Korea's Chung Ji-young, Cannes Critics' Week head and Busan prize recipient Charles Tesson and Scott Foundas, Variety's chief film critic.
A six film, non-competitive gala section includes a re-run of Korean-made, English-language hit "Snowpiercer" as well as a premiere of Lee Sang-il's Japanese remake of Clint Eastwood's "The Unforgiven," "The X," the latest film by Korea's Kim Jee-woon, and veteran Indian director Mani Ratnam's "Kadal."
In addition to beefing up the New Currents competition with three Korean films instead of the usual two, the festival is making room for numerous others. Box office hits "The Terror Live" and "Cold Eyes" get run outs as outdoor screenings, while the Korean Cinema Today section showcases a further 24 features including Kim Ki-duk's controversial "Moebius."
The World Cinema section includes U.S. titles "All Is Lost" by J.C. Chandor, "Fruitvale Station" by Ryan Coogler, and the Coen brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis."
"Vara: A Blessing" (pictured) uses South Indian classical dance, Bharatanatyam, to tell a story of beautiful love, self-sacrifice, and a woman's strength in adversity. Production involved top international elements including Hong Kong's William Chang Suk-ping as designer and India-UK composer Nitin Sawhney. The story involves a trainee dancer (Shahana Goswamy) who begins a relationship with a local sculptor, but she chooses to sacrifice her love when it is discovered that the man is in fact Lord Krishna for whom she has to dedicate her life. Kyentse Norbu previously directed "The Cup" in 1999 and "Travelers And Magicians" in 2003.
Elsewhere in the festival, a massive retrospective section will present some 70 of the 101 films made by Korean veteran Im Kwon-taek.
Master class sessions will be given by Im, Israel's Amos Gitai, Cambodia' Rithy Panh, Ireland's Jim Sheridan and Korea's Lee Chang-dong.
Busan 2013 New Currents competition line-up
"10 Minutes" dir: LEE Yong-seung (South Korea)
"Again" dir: KANAI Junichi (Japan)
" Concrete Clouds" dir: Lee CHATAMETIKOOL (Thailand / Hong Kong)
"Water" dir: Girish MALIK (India)
Pascha dir: AHN Seonkyoung (South Korea)
"Remote Control" dir: Byamba SAKHYA (Mongolia / Germany)
"Sarikend" dir: Mehdi PARIZAD (Iran)
"Steel Cold Winter" dir: CHOI Jin-seong (South Korea)
"The Isthmus" dirs: Sopawan BOONNIMITRA Peerachai KERDSINT (Thailand)
"The Story of an Old Woman" dir: Alexey GORLOV (Kazakhstan)
"Toilet Blues" dir: Dirmawan HATTA (Indonesia)
"Transit" dir: Hannah ESPIA (Philippines)
© 2013 Variety Media, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC