Film festival organizers protest planned state funding cutOrganizers of international film festivals in South Korea staged a joint protest Friday against a government plan to further slash their funding, saying state support is essential to bolstering the global profile of their events and the nation.
In its proposed 2011 budget, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism allocated 2.5 billion won ($2.2 million), down from this year’s 3.5 billion won, for the nation’s six annual international film festivals, including the Pusan International Film Festival. State funding for film fests has continued to decrease in recent years despite their growing international stature.
“International film festivals in the nation have become part of the representative cultural brand and play a key role in nurturing the domestic film market and developing provincial economies,” Kim Ji-seok, a PIFF executive programmer, said in a forum held by the film festival organizers.
Over its 15-year history, PIFF has become the most prestigious film event in Asia and often serves as a benchmark for nascent film festivals in other countries. A total of 153 world premiers were screened there this year, while its closest rivals in Tokyo and Hong Kong drew 20 and 26 world premiers, respectively.
Most of its budget relies on corporate sponsors and the government of its host city, Busan. Of the PIFF’s budget of 8 billion won this year, only 1.5 billion won came from the central government, down from 1.8 billion in 2009.
State funding has also been waning for other international film festivals in South Korea, including the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival, Jeonju International Film Festival, Jecheon International Film & Music Festival, the Women’s Film Festival in Seoul and Seoul International Youth Film Festival.
“The characteristic spectrum of those film festivals is a measurement of the nation’s openness and cultural diversity as well as the proof of its cultural foundation,” Ahn Sung-ki, an award-winning veteran actor, said at the forum. “Such diversity cannot be achieved with individual power, and that’s why government support is necessary.”
The organizers cited acclaimed international film festivals that receive a sizable amount of money from the government, including the Cannes Film Festival, which gets about half of its budget, or 10 million euros ($13.6 million), from the French government. Germany provides 8 million euros to the Berlin International Film Festival, which has a total budget of 18 million euros, while the Tokyo International Film Festival receives about a third of its 1 billion yen ($12 million) budget from the state.