BUSAN • There was wind, there was rain, but all anyone really cared about was looking at the stars as film-makers from Asia and beyond gathered in South Korea on Thursday night for a Bollywoodflavoured launch of the 20th Busan International Film Festival.
Fans donned plastic jackets and braved the remnants of Typhoon Dujuan as they took up positions in the stands along the red carpet laid outside Busan Cinema Centre in the South Korean port city.
The stars did not disappoint them, with the likes of China's Tang Wei, Japan's Masami Nagasawa and South Korea's Ha Ji Won braving what had threatened to become a decidedly slippery surface.
Hollywood veteran Harvey Keitel was another of the festival's marquee guests to greet fans, alongside some Asian film-makers who credit the festival with helping to introduce them to the world, including China's Feng Xiaogang and Hong Kong's Johnnie To.
The festival's Asian Filmmaker of the Year award this year was presented to Japan's Studio Ghibli. Its chairman, producer Suzuki Toshio, received the honour on behalf of the company founded by director Hayao Miyasaki, who created the Oscar-winning 2001 feature Spirited Away.
The main feature was the world premiere of Indian director Mozez Singh's debut, Zubaan, a comingof-age drama about a young Sikh who finds his way in life through music. It is the first time a Bollywood offering has opened the festival. "This is a super platform for any film-maker and I wish all of us luck and the opening of many exciting new cinematic doors," Singh said.
While the festival has struggled with funding issues over the past year, Asia's film industry as a whole is booming. The combined boxoffice receipts of Asia's biggest movie markets - China, Japan, India, South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia - out-earned North America for the first time last year - US$10.5 billion (S$15.1 billion) to US$10.4 billion - said the Motion Picture Association of America.
Much of that was down to China, where box-office takings surged 38 per cent from 2013 to US$4.8 billion.