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Taiwanese movie on young soldiers to open Asia's top film festival

A feature film portraying young Taiwanese soldiers at the height of cross-strait tension will open Asia's top movie festival next month, organisers said on Tuesday (Sep 2).

SEOUL: A feature film portraying young Taiwanese soldiers at the height of cross-strait tension will open Asia's top movie festival next month, organisers said on Tuesday (Sep 2), adding this year's event would feature more films from lesser-known Asian regions.

"Paradise in Service" by acclaimed Taiwanese actor-director Niu Chen-Zer, also known as Doze Niu, is a fictional drama set on an island caught in the middle of a military standoff between China and Taiwan.

Set on Kinmen Island in the 1960s, the coming-of-age movie revolves around the lives of young conscripts guarding an army-run brothel, and plays out against the backdrop of Taiwan's volatile modern history.

The October 2-11 Busan International Film Festival in South Korea's port city of Busan will feature 314 movies from 79 countries, including 98 world premieres. The event features around 166 movies from Asia - more than half of the total being shown. Launched in 1996, the annual festival has grown into the largest of its kind in Asia.

Festival director Lee Yong-kwan said organisers this year focused more on discovering movies beyond the traditional Asian powerhouses like China, Iran, India, or Japan. This year's event features four films from Vietnam, three from Iraq and others from countries including Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Lebanon.

"We made greater efforts to fulfill our mission of introducing to the world movies across the Asian region," Lee said at a press conference.

"The Face of the Ash" by Iraqi director Shakhawan Idress - to be premiered in Busan - is a black comedy about a man who receives the remains of his nephew killed in a war and doubts if they are really his nephew's.

"The President," directed by Iranese Mohsen Makhmalbaf and shot in Georgia, portrays a dictator coming to spend his last days as a fugitive after a revolt at home.

Special programmes for Georgian and Turkish films will also be held, with a focus on Turkish directors in the 1990s and 2000s and on female Georgian filmmakers.

"Georgian movies in recent years are making great inroads internationally, mostly led by female directors, which we found amazing," executive programmer Kim Ji-Seok said.

"Gangster Pay Day," a HongKong gangster comedy directed by Lee Bo-Cheung, will close the festival.

The event's most prominent award, The Asian Filmmaker of the Year, will be given to Ann Hui, famed for her controversial films touching on issues like crime and social activism.

"Golden Era" - Hui's latest work and starring "Lust, Caution" star Tang Wei - is based on a real-life story of a famed Chinese female author in the early 20th century, and will also be screened in Busan.