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By Kim Boram
BUSAN, Oct. 3 (Yonhap) -- The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) started its 24th edition in the southern port city of Busan on Thursday, featuring more than 300 movies and various intriguing programs.
The opening ceremony was held at the fully-packed 5,000-seat outdoor stage of the Busan Cinema Center in the city, located 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul, co-hosted by South Korean actor Jung Woo-sung and actress Lee Hanee.
With loud cheers and applause from the audience, some 250 Asian actors and filmmakers hit the red carpet to brighten one of the biggest film festivals in Asia.
Actress Cho Yeo-jeong of this year's Cannes-winning Korean film "Parasite" made a finger heart gesture when she arrived at the opening ceremony, while Suho of K-pop band EXO, whose real name is Kim Jun-myeon, and Im Yoon-ah of Girls' Generation received large cheers from the crowd.
Japanese actress Misa Eto and actor Taiga Nakano and Thai-Irish film director Tom Waller also attended the event.
"The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time," a Kazakh film co-directed by Yerlan Nurmukhambetov from Kazakhstan and Lisa Takeba from Japan, was the opener of this year's BIFF.
Nurmukhambetov was awarded the 2015 New Currents prize, given to up-and-coming Asian directors, at BIFF for his feature "Walnut Tree."
Along with the opener, 303 films from 85 countries will jazz up the festivity and cinematic vibe in Busan during the festival until Oct. 12.
The festival will close with "Moonlight Winter," a melodrama by South Korean director Lim Dae-hyung, the 2016 winner of BIFF's New Currents award for "Merry Christmas Mr. Mo."
In this year's New Currents competition section, 14 films from 10 countries, including "John Denver Trending" by Philippine director Arden Rod Condez and "An Old Lady" by South Korea's Lim Sun-ae, will vie for the prize.
British director Mike Figgis will lead the jury for the New Currents competition along with Karel Och, a Czech filmmaker; Samal Yeslyamova, a Kazakh actress; Lee Sinje, also known as Angelica Lee, a Malaysian actress; and Suh Young-joo, the CEO of a South Korean film distributor.
"The Truth" by Palme d'Or-winning Hirokazu Kore-eda and three other movies, including Netflix-made David Michod's "The King," will be shown in the Gala Presentation section for screening the latest works from contemporary master directors.
There will be a special screening program to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Korean cinema. Ten masterpieces by renowned Korean directors, including "The Housemaid" (1960) by director Kim Ki-young and "Old Boy" (2003) by Park Chan-wook, will be screened under the slogan "The 100 Year History of Korean Cinema, 10 Great Korean Films."
This year's festival will also present a retrospective screening of seven films by prominent South Korean filmmakers. The lineup includes Kim Ki-young's "Woman of Fire" (1971), Kim Soo-yong's "Late Autumn" (1981) and Bae Chang-ho's "Hwang Jin-ie" (1986).
"This year's BIFF aims to clarify the festival's future goal," BIFF Chairman Lee Yong-kwan said in a press conference held in Seoul last month. "We will make BIFF embrace actors, directors and audiences, as well as minorities, with all of Asia enjoying the festival."
The 2019 BIFF has been affected by Typhoon Mitag, which hit South Korea on Wednesday with strong winds and heavy landfall.
The festival's pre-opening event, slated for Wednesday evening at a BIFF plaza in southern Busan, was canceled due to the inclement weather conditions caused by the typhoon. But the opening ceremony took place as scheduled.
The festival organizers earlier removed promotional structures and banner ads set up throughout Busan to prevent damage from the typhoon.
In particular, the BIFF Village, an outdoor stage set up on Haeundae beach for various press conferences and other events for participating actors and filmmakers, has been permanently closed and moved to the Busan Cinema Center. BIFF said it has made the decision to prevent typhoons from damaging the stage and disrupting schedules for various outdoor events.