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Pusan Film Festival Honors


Tuesday, August 21---------The Pusan International Film Festival, which will take place in Pusan, South Korea from October 4 to 12, has become the largest and most respected film festival in Asia. Considered a kind of "Asian Sundance" because of its commitment to cutting-edge works by international auteurs, the Festival has announced a number of award tributes for its upcoming session.

Taiwanese director Edward Yang, who helped build Taiwan's new wave cinema of the 1980s, will be honored posthumously with the Asian Filmmaker of the Year Award. Born on November 6, 1947 in Shanghai, China, Edward Yang became one of the most honored and respected international filmmakers of his generation. Along with Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Tsai Ming-Liang, Yang brought international recognition to Taiwanese cinema with a series of strong films that revealed a society torn between its Asian ancestry and its Western inclinations. Growing up in Taipei, Yang eventually made his way to California, where he briefly attended USC Film School. He dropped out before getting his degree, discouraged by the programs commercial focus. After working in Seattle for a number of years on the development of microcomputers and defense software, he had a life-changing encounter with the German director Werner Herzog, who gave him an instant education in world cinema and reignited his interest in film.

He eventually wrote the script and served as a production aide on the Hong Kong television movie, THE WINTER OF 1905 (1981), before returning to Taiwan to direct television shows and tv commercials. His big break came in 1982, when he wrote and directed the film short DESIRES (1982), which was included in the compilation film IN OUR TIME (1982). His compelling film about the crumbling of values in urban Taipei signaled the theme that would resonate in all his subsequent work. In the films that followed, TAIPEI STORY (1984), THE TERRORIZER (1986) and A BRIGHTER SUMMER DAY (1991), he explored the influence of American pop culture and the strain on traditional Taiwanese traditions. His films A CONFUCIAN CONFUSION (1995), MAHJONG (1996) and especially YI YI (2000) were major international hits and received mutliple prizes on the international film festival circuit. Yang's filmmaking style looks at the conflicts and contradictions of "modernization", a vision that made him one of the original voices in international cinema of the past twenty-five years. He died in July at the age of 59 from colon cancer, which he had been battling for several years.

The Festival has also announced its twin winners of the Korean Cinema Award, which is awarded to international programmers, critics and curators who advance the knowledge and awareness of South Korean cinema. This year, the Award will be shared by Sabrina Baracetti, head of the Udine Far East Film Festival, a yearly event in Italy that focuses attention on new trends in Asian cinema, and Jean-Francois Rauger, chief programmer of the Cinematheque Francaise in Paris, who has championed Korean cinema with a number of special programs and retrospectives over the years. For more information on the upcoming Pusan International Film Festival, visit their website:

Sandy Mandelberger, Awards Watch Editor

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All the Buzz on Film Festival Awards, Celebrity Tributes and the Film Awards Season.

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