×

Big fest flaunts arty ambitions

Fest Traveler: Busan Intl. Film Festival 2012

Over the past few years, the Busan Intl. Film Festival has been accused by some of focusing more on expansion and paying less attention to quality. At first glance BIFF 2012 with 304 films from 75 countries (including 93 world premieres) unspooling over two weekends seems as if it is continuing the bigger is better philosophy.

But it won’t all be about size, says Busan festival director Yong-kwan Lee. “It’s true that we’ve become bigger but that doesn’t mean that our strengths, such as serious talks with directors and academic discussions, have disappeared altogether. As the festival got bigger, so has the media attention,” Lee says, noting that this year, the festival is launching a daily magazine featuring reviews of some 80 films screened at Busan by a group of domestic and international critics.

The festival director is excited about an initiative at the Asian Film Market called Book to Film. The program allows 10 writers to pitch their novels — chosen from 49 entries — to producers, who have the opportunity to buy the material.

Even as the 17th edition of the fest is readied, Lee is looking ahead to Busan’s 20th, when the Busan Cinema Center — in its sophomore year hosting the festival — will be firmly established as home, with year-round programming from Asian auteurs, European directors, Korean independent films and classic Korean films on its four screens.

There are also plans to launch a cable TV channel in March, showing BIFF programming from past and present.

“We have archive material from the past 16 years, not just films but also talks with great directors and actors that will be shown on the channel. There are also plans to launch a dedicated pay-per-view BIFF film website,” Lee says.

“Right now a busy road stands between the Busan Cinema Center and the Su-young River. We’ve secured the budget to build an underpass so that the road can become a park, linking the center to the riverfront. The plan is to have expansive park area, with a riverside promenade before the 19th BIFF,” he says.

Construction is set to begin next fall.

The Asian Film Market is also set to move again next year from the current location at the Bexco center to the Busan Cinema Center.

Lee feels a sense of frustration about the relative lack of interest in Asian cinema in South Korea. “We’re seeing a huge surge of interest in Korean cultural content across the world these days,” he says, adding that it’s the obligation of the festival to promote not only Korean films but also Asian cinema.

Indeed, the fest opens with “Cold War,” a crimer from Hong Kong. The opening ceremony will be emceed by China’s Tang Wei, who has a huge following in South Korea. North Korean comedy “Comrade Kim Goes Flying” will be screened following approval from the South’s Unification Ministry.

Fest Traveler: Busan Intl. Film Festival 2012
Big fest flaunts arty ambitions | Busan flavored with strong Chinese flavor | Mart beefs up numbers | Project Market travels beyond Asia for lineup

More Scene

  • David Crosby

    David Crosby Says New Documentary 'Remember My Name' Is Like 'Being Naked in Public’

    “It’s not easy. It’s hard being naked in public,” David Crosby, the legendary troubadour of classic rock, reflected at Tuesday night’s New York City premiere of “David Crosby: Remember My Name.” “I don’t know what to do here. There’s no guitars, no drums,” he laughed. Directed by newcomer A.J. Eaton and produced by the legendary [...]

  • The Ultimate Guide to 2019 Comic-Con

    The Ultimate Guide to 2019 Comic-Con Parties and Activations

    Hollywood is heading down the California coast to San Diego because It’s time for 2019 Comic-Con International. The annual cosplay celebration officially kicks off tomorrow, July 18, with a preview happening tonight. Here, Variety gives you a guide to this year’s parties and activations. Make sure to check back for updates. Wednesday, July 17Amazon Prime [...]

  • Sir Elton John, David Furnish. Sir

    New Elton John AIDS Foundation Gala to be Held in the South of France

    Elton John and David Furnish are launching a new gala for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The two will host the inaugural A Midsummer Party benefit on July 24 in the south of France at the Johnny Pigozzi’s private estate, Villa Dorane, in Cap d’Antibes. A cocktail reception will be followed by dinner, a live [...]

  • Dwayne Johnson Idris Elba

    Dwayne Johnson: Idris Elba Nixed 'Black James Bond' Joke in 'Hobbs & Shaw'

    In the “Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw,” the movie’s villain Brixton, played by Idris Elba, spreads his arms out wide and declares “I’m black Superman.” It turns out that might not have been the original line. Dwayne Johnson tells Variety that Elba was first asked to proclaim he’s “black James Bond,” but the [...]

  • Matteo BocelliAmerican Icon Awards Gala, Inside,

    Top Music Manager Calls Out American Icon Awards for Failing to Pay Talent

    The centuries-old adage no good deed goes unpunished is a common refrain for star music manager Scott Rodger of late. Rodger, who represents Paul McCartney and Andrea Bocelli at Maverick, says his client Matteo Bocelli, the son of the opera star, was stiffed out of promised expense reimbursement by the American Icon Awards. The event, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content