BIFF returns to “sort of normal”

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BIFF returns to “sort of normal”

The 23rd Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) drew to a close on Saturday, recovering from four years of setbacks over artistic freedom but left with the task of making the festival relevant in a changing market.

Typhoon Kong-rey forced BIFF to cancel or relocate some beachside events just after the film festival opened on Oct. 4. Despite that, the 23rd BIFF drew 195,081 attendees, up from 192,991 last year, during its 10-day run.

The top awards in the main competition category, the New Currents Award, went to “Savage” by Chinese director Cui Si Wei and “Clean Up” by Korean director Kwon Man-ki. The New Currents prize awards feature films by up-and-coming Asian directors.

The Kim Jiseok Award, created this year to honor a late BIFF programmer, went to Jamshid Mahmoudi’s “Rona, Azim’s Mother” and Zhang Wei’s “The Rib.”

The BIFF Mecenat Award was given to James T. Hong’s “Opening Closing Forgetting” and Park Kyung-kun’s “Army,” while Kwon Sung-mo and Ashish Pandey took the Sonje Award with “Cat Day Afternoon” and “Nooreh” respectively.

Two Korean actresses - Lee Ju-yeong and Choi Hee-seo - took home the Actor & Actress of the Year Awards for their roles in “Maggie” and “Our Body,” respectively.

“Since the boycott by local film bodies has ended, more filmmakers from Korea and the world visited the festival this year as well as actors and actresses,” BIFF’s organizers said during a press conference as the festival ended. “In consequence, it has been normalized through participation by many filmmakers.”

Major associations of filmmakers and actors returned to the 23rd BIFF, ending their boycott of the festival triggered in past years by controversies about the festival’s political neutrality and independence.

But the annual film festival now has to prove itself relevant in an age of increasingly diverse media outlets, and to compete with rival film festivals in Asia that capitalized on BIFF’s past woes. Yonhap
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