Reintroducing forgotten masters
Visitors to this year's Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF) had a rare chance to encounter hard-to-find masterpieces of three Asian filmmakers who left great legacies in their countries but have not received much recognition overseas.
The three are Sohrab Shahid Saless (1944-1998) from Iran, RD Pestonji (1908-1970) from Thailand and Teguh Karya (1937-2001) from Indonesia.
Sohrab Shahid Saless faced a lonely death in his flat in Chicago at the age of 54 in 1998 after leaving his homeland due to political persecution in 1976. But despite his tragic end, he greatly influenced world-renowned directors such as Abbas Kiarostami and Mohsen Makhmalbaf with his two award-winning films, A Simple Event (1973) and Still Life (1974).
In his first feature, A Simple Event, he describes the everyday life of a 10-year-old boy living in a small town with an ill mother and a father struggling to make a living by smuggling fish. Still Life, which refused to go by the conventional rules of filmmaking, won numerous prizes, including one in Berlin in 1974.
Despite his reputation as one of the most influential Thai filmmakers of the 20th century, director RD Pestonji left only few feature films. He was the first filmmaker in the country to shoot on 35 mm with synchronized sound recording.
Black Silk (1961), a crime drama, which was invited to Berlin in 1961, was the last Thai film to play in competition at a major international film festival until Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Last Life in the Universe (2003) was shown at the Venice Film Festival in 2003.
Country Hotel (1957), Dark Heavenˇ (1958) and Sugar is Not Sweet (1965) have also been shown during the event.
Ballad of the Man (1972) directed by Teguh Karya, who led the prosperous days of Indonesian film industry in the 1970s and 80s, is about the painful life of a young man full of agonies under his unhappy family history and his country's colonial period.
We'll keep inviting works of Asian filmmakers who left their great influences to his predecessors at least in their own country, but have not received much attention from the world film history every year, said Kim Ji-seok, programmer for the Window on Asian Cinema section at PIFF. Catalogs with biographies and critical essays on three directors have been published along with the screening of the eight films.
— The Korea Times