Busan film fest to highlight new voices, honor Korea’s history

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Busan film fest to highlight new voices, honor Korea’s history

The organizers of the 24th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) are eager to invite and introduce more diverse films to local audiences through the country’s largest film event.

Three hundred and three international and local films from 85 countries will be screened at BIFF this year. Executive director Jeon Yang-jun said that the number of films being screened at this year’s festival is a feat that organizers would have never dreamed of when BIFF started 23 years ago.

“Still, BIFF won’t rest on our laurels and will continue to strive to reach higher standards,” Jeon said.

“Right now, works by female directors make up 27 percent [of them films being screened]. We will work harder to reach 35 percent, possibly by next year, which would be the highest participation rate by female directors at an international film fest. Furthermore, we will try to show more films that focus on social and sexual minorities.”

The opening and closing film for this year’s festival will feature works from former recipients of the New Currents Award, a prize given to promising rookie directors for their debut or second feature films. Kazakhstani film “Horse Thieves. Road of Time” by directors Yerlan Nurmukhambetov and Lisa Takeba will open BIFF, while local film “Moonlit Winter” by director Lim Dae-hyung was selected to close the film fest.

Nurmukhambetov received the New Currents Award in 2015 for his feature film “Walnut Tree” and Lim won the award in 2016 for the film “Merry Christmas Mr. Mo.”

“I’m sure the audience will feel the same sense of awe that I did when I first finished this film,” Jeon said when he was asked why the festival had picked the particular film to kick off the event.

“Although the film is from Kazakhstan, it’s [seems like] a well-made western, the likes of works by John Ford or George Stevens.”

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Korean film industry, the festival will also host various programs and special exhibitions such as “The 100-Year History of Korean Cinema, 10 Great Films” and “Gaze and Memories - Asia’s Leading Women Filmmakers.”

This year’s Asian Film Market will present television contents for the first time this year, in addition to introducing films as it has for years. The Asia Contents Awards, which will honor exceptional drama series, producers, writers and actors from the 10 Asean nations, will also be presented for the first time.

A series of new forums will give festivalgoers more opportunities to engage with and meet film experts at Community BIFF 2019, a spin-off event. Community BIFF will be held for seven days during the film festival.

One of the eye-catching events is “Legendary Cinephiles Strike Back” hosted by three legendary film critics - Jung Sung-il, Kim Hong-jun and Djuna. Djuna is known for her perceptive and witty film reviews but everything about the critic still remains a mystery. Djuna will be communicating with the audience through an online chat, while the two other film critics will be on the panel. The three film critics will each choose a film to surprise the audience with.

BY LEE JAE-LIM [lee.jaelim@joongang.co.kr]
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