Filmmakers to boycott BIFF over ongoing dispute

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Filmmakers to boycott BIFF over ongoing dispute

After a month of waiting and watching patiently, local filmmakers announced Monday that they have decided not to attend the upcoming 21st Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) scheduled for Oct. 6 to 15.

The emergency planning committee of BIFF, made up of nine local film organizations including the Korean Film Producers Association and Directors Guild of Korea, issued a statement Monday saying that more than 90 percent of the affiliated groups’ members agreed to boycott the beleaguered film festival, according to a survey it conducted.

The boycott follows the committee’s press conference last month, where they made three demands of Busan Metropolitan City regarding the festival’s freedom of speech and independence. If their demands were not fulfilled, they said they would boycott the upcoming BIFF.

The first request was for Busan Mayor Suh Byung-soo, who has been continuously exercising his power as festival chairman even though he resigned from the post in February, to relinquish involvement in the festival.

The second request was for the city to withdraw the injunction it filed against the newly appointed advisory committee formed by former festival director Lee Yong-kwan. Lee has been at odds with Suh, as well as the host city, ever since he screened the politically charged documentary “The Truth Shall Not Sink with Sewol” in 2014.

However, on April 11, the Busan District Court ruled against the validity of the 68-member committee.

The last request was for Suh to publicly apologize for actions that allegedly damaged the festival’s management and reputation.

“The city of Busan did not carry out any of the requests we made. Furthermore, they were able to nullify the validity of the new advisory committee on behalf of the court’s ruling, demolishing the chance to make revisions to the articles of association,” the statement read. “Therefore, as we’ve announced at the previous press conference, we are not going to attend the upcoming BIFF. We are sorry to announce such a decision with only six months until the festival. However, if the festival’s independence, hence the freedom of speech, shall not be ensured, there is no chance we will attend the festival.”

With the festival being off to a severely crippled start, the BIFF organizing committee is tentatively going ahead with the preparation process.

“We are doing everything we can at our level to prepare for the festival, but every day is like walking on thin ice,” an official from BIFF told the Korea JoongAng Daily. “We are holding on to a thin hope of rolling out the event, but we cannot be sure in what form and size the festival will end up."

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