BUSAN: ‘End of Winter’ and ’13’ Share New Currents Awards

13, winner of Busan's New Currents
Courtesy of Busan Film Festival

BUSAN – Top prizes at the Busan International Film Festival were shared between Korean director Kim Daehwan’s “End of Winter” and Iranian Hooman Seyedi’s “13.

Prizes for the New Currents competition section were chosen by a jury headed by Iranian Asghar Farhadi.

“End of Winter” is a stylized exploration of the breakup of a family. “13” is about a 13 year old boy’s loneliness and rebellious rage at the violence that surrounds him.

Both films were the feature debuts of their directors.

The newly set up actor’s awards for best Korean actor and actress in a film in the Vision section went to Choi Woo-sik of “Set Me Free” and Cho Soohyang of “Wild Flowers.”

The awards were announced Saturday morning at a press conference. They will be presented to the winners Saturday evening at the closing ceremony ahead of the screening of Hong Kong-made closing film “Gangster Pay Day.”

Unfortunately for the festival organizers, the dominant topic of the press conference was not the competition titles or the winners, but rather the controversial documentary “The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol.” The programmers’ decision to show the investigative and highly politicized film and events surrounding the screening have troubled the festival since even before the first curtain.

Some reporters from right of center media criticized the festival for “destroying itself” by screening the film. Others expressed a sense of frustration at not being able to watch the film, and asked for an explanation as to why the festival announced both screenings as sold out, when many seats in the theater were in fact empty.

Festival director Lee Yong Kwan spoke of his “regret” about and “apology” for the controversy. But Lee also insisted that the festival will not censor itself.

Farhadi played down the “Truth” controversy and seemed to support the beleaguered festival organizers, who are torn between keeping their programming integrity and the need to secure funding from local politicians. “We can’t be informed of events based only on what we read on Google,” he said.

Busan International Film Festival – 2014 New Currents Award Winners

New Currents Award (joint winners)
“End of Winter,” dir. Kim Daehwan (Korea)
“13,” dir. Hooman Seyedi (Iran)
BIFF Mecenat Award (joint winners)
“The Storm Makers,” dir. Guillaume Suon (Cambodia)
“Collapse,” dirs. Mun Jeonghyun, Lee Wonwoo (Korea)
Sonje Award
“Stairway,” dir. Matt Wu (Taiwan)
“The Night,” dir. Choi Kiyun (Korea)
2014 Actor of the Year
Choi Woo-sik, in “Set Me Free”
2014 Actress of the Year
Cho Soohyang, in “Wild Flowers”
KNN Audience Award
“Ghadi,” dir. Amin Dora (Lebanon)
Busan Bank Award (Audience award)
“The Boss, Anatomy of a Crime,” dir. Sebastian Schindel (Argentina)

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