Busan’s 20th Opening Night: A Splashy Affair

The opening ceremony of the 20th BIFF Thursday night was the splashiest by far. Guests walking the soggy red carpet were handed rain ponchos as they reached their seats in the open air Busan Cinema Center and most everyone put them put on over their evening wear.

“Though it is pouring, I can feel the burning enthusiasm here,” said Korean actor Kwak Do-won, who walked the red carpet as part of the cast for his upcoming title “Asura.”

Due to daylong rainfall and fierce winds in which the Busan airport had to close down, stars showed up for the red carpet parade in glamorous gowns showing little skin. Guests walking the carpet included “Office” heroine Ko A-sung, “Veteran” lead Hwang Jung-min, beloved Chinese actress Tang Wei and Cannes-winning actress Jeon Do-yeon. Kang Soo-youn, who joined the festival as the co-director this year, greeted the guests with co-director Lee Yong-kwan.

Proceedings were led by Korea’s top actor Song Kang-ho (“The Attorney”) and awards-winning Afghan actress Marina Golbahari (“Mina Walking”). Renowned Korean soprano Jo Sumi offered a special performance with the Busan National Traditional Music Center orchestra to celebrate the festival’s commemorative 20th edition.

The Korean Cinema Award went to Berlinale Panorama curator Wieland Speck for promoting Korean films worldwide. “I’ve been with the BIFF for a long time. When the BIFF was fledging, (the fest’s honorary director) Kim Dong-ho visited Berlin to get some know-how on running a festival. I am glad to receive this award after 20 years. Cinema can bring many countries, cultures and passions together.”

Japan’s Studio Ghibli is only the second company to receive the Asian Film Maker of the Year Award, typically given to an individual. Suzuki Toshio, Takeda Mikiko, Aoki Takayuki and Tai Yukari attended the ceremony, representing the studio. (Japan’s NHK received the prize in 2005.) Toshio spoke on the company’s behalf mentioning that he was pleased to receive the award “on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and Japan.”

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