Stars from Hollywood, Bollywood and China gathered with film-makers and fans Thursday for the launch of Asia's most prestigious film festival in the South Korean port city of Busan.
Workers along Busan's scenic Haeundae beach were frantically piecing together the outdoor stage and pavilions that help ensure the general public can keep up close and personal with the stars throughout the festival.
Organisers have scheduled appearances by the likes of South Korean heartthrob Won Bin, acclaimed US actor Willem Dafoe, Bollywood beauty Aishwarya Rai, the Oscar-winning American director Oliver Stone and French actress Juliette Binoche.
Up-and-coming Chinese star Tang Wei will also walk the opening night red carpet ahead of a programme reflecting the fast-changing nature of the region's cinema industry.
The array of international stars plus a record 103 world premieres in a line-up of 308 films -- and an expanded Chinese presence -- are set to put a shine on the 15th Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF).
The extravaganza, which is expected to draw 150,000 people from the world over, is again heavily slanted towards the diverse region's independent film-makers, including those from China.
The rapidly developing country of 1.3 billion people, which now has the second biggest economy in the world after overtaking Japan, has established itself in the last few years as the fastest-growing film market in the world.
"Each year, Chinese films take the largest part of our programme," said Kim Ji-Seok, the executive programmer of the festival, which uses Busan's old spelling of Pusan.
This year's opening screening is a Chinese film, director Zhang Yimou's "Under the Hawthorn Tree", a touching love story set during communist leader Mao Zedong's disastrous Cultural Revolution.
"I think the role and presence of Chinese film is very crucial in supporting the advancement of Asian cinema and joint productions between Asian nations," Kim added.
There will also be a special focus on Kurdish cinema and spotlights on the cinema industries of Spain and the Czech Republic.
The festival?s main award, "New Currents", hands over two prizes of 30,000 dollars to first- or second-time Asian film-makers.
There will be an extensive programme featuring Asian documentaries and the annual running of the Asian Film Academy, which aims to educate the region's next generation of film-makers.
The Academy is this year headed by legendary Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, who won the Palme D'Or at Cannes in 1997 with his "Taste of Cherry".
The curtain will come down on PIFF on October 15 with the screening of "Camellia", a production of three parts centering on the city of Busan and directed by Thailand's Wisit Sasanatieng, Isao Yukisada of Japan and South Korea's Jang Jun-Hwan.