BIFF director, chairman to quit after this year

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BIFF director, chairman to quit after this year


Kim Dong-ho, left, founding director and chairman of the Busan International Film Festival, and Kang Soo-youn, actress and executive director of the festival, attend a public hearing in Feb. regarding the BIFF controversy, at the Busan Cinema Venture Center. [YONHAP]

The leaders of the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) offered to resign Tuesday to assume responsibility for the protracted feud in the film industry over the festival’s artistic freedom.

Kim Dong-ho, chairman, and Kang Soo-youn, executive director, said they will leave right after the closure of this year’s event that runs from Oct. 12-21 in order to not cause any disruption to the event.

“Out of the conviction that the festival must be held in any case, we decided to do our best for this year’s festival that is less than two months away and leave following the closing ceremony on Oct. 21,” the two officials said in a statement. “We ask for unchanged support and participation from the film scene and all the people so the event can be held successfully.”

The two have come under criticism from the film industry for lacking efforts to reform the festival that was torn apart after two years of political infighting between festival organizers and the Busan city government over the festival’s artistic freedom. The city of Busan funds around half of the festival’s annual budget.’

The dispute began in 2014 when then-festival director Lee Yong-kwan pushed for the screening of a controversial documentary in spite of opposition from Suh Byung-soo, Busan mayor and then-BIFF organizing committee chairman.

The film “The Truth Shall Not Sink with Sewol,” also known as “Diving Bell,” criticized the central government’s botched attempt to rescue the passengers of the Sewol ferry that sank in April 2014, claiming over 300 lives, most of whom were teenage students.

Kang became a co-executive director of the BIFF in August 2015 to handle the infighting. Kim, the festival’s founding director, took over the festival chairmanship from the Busan mayor last year after both sides amended the festival’s bylaws to assure its independence and transparency.

However, without four of the country’s nine film industry groups attending, the 21st edition of the festival was held in a largely sedate atmosphere. They, mostly filmmakers and actors, argued the revisions were not enough to bring fundamental change.

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