×

Growing Busan Film Festival Keeps Focus on Local Talent

The launch of new Asian cinema remains a priority

When a festival nears the 20-year mark, many feel certain expectations have to be met. The Busan Film Festival, which will open its 18th edition Oct. 3, is no exception.

Busan seems to have taken the “bigger is better” philosophy to heart, expanding to 300 titles and so many sidebars that films can get lost. Some ask whether the fest has become too big for its own good.

Those running the festival do not seem to have a shred of doubt about its mission.

“The issue of identity is something that BIFF has thought long and hard about,” says festival director Lee Yongkwan. “Our focus has always been to be an event where the best of Asian cinema is introduced to the rest of the world, as well for Asian filmmakers to come together with industry professionals from elsewhere. It’s also where Asian filmmakers get to know each other over cups of soju by the beach.”

Lee is especially happy about this year’s edition. “We’ll be screening over 30 films to which BIFF has given financial support over the past few years,” he says. BIFF provides nearly $100,000 of financial support to Asian cinema per year.

Lee is also proud of BIFF’s support for Asian arthouse cinema. While 2013 has been a smashing year for Korean commercial pics, he says it has also been a great year for local auteurs, with black-and-white drama “Jiseul” grossing more than $910,000; and the doc “Project Cheonan Ship,” which opened on Sept. 5, on 11 screens. Shin Yeon-shick’s “The Russian Novel,” on 10 screens, is tracking in the top 20.

“BIFF has always been and will continue to be a platform for indie filmmakers,” Lee says. “We know how hard things are for them. We want to be a place where their voices are heard by government policymakers and those in the industry.”

Indeed, BIFF has three programs that support Asian cinema; “Jiseul” was among the beneficiaries.

Asian film programmer Kim Ji-seok says the festival has to play a strong role in telling the story of Asian film history. This year it will host a retrospective of Central Asian New Wave films. “We’ve
gone back to the forgotten films of the 1980s and 1990s, many by little known directors, or films that have almost never been seen,” Kim says.

The fest’s opening night movie illustrates BIFF’s commitment to Asian cinema: “Vara: A Blessing” by Bhutan’s Khyentse Norbu. The closing night film, “The Dinner,” an independent feature by Kim Dong-hyun, also offers encouragement to Koreans who are working outside the local studio system.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Frank Grillo'Avengers: Endgame' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Matt Phelps Tapped as President of Joe Carnahan, Frank Grillo's Warparty

    Frank Grillo and Joe Carnahan’s Warparty productikon banner has appointed Matt Phelps president of the company. Phelps will head the Los Angeles office and be responsible for overseeing all film and television projects. “We searched long and hard to find the right fit for Warparty and felt that Matt embodied everything that we were looking [...]

  • Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent,

    Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent, Dies at 88

    Jack Gilardi, a longtime ICM Partners agent who represented such stars as Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, Jerry Lewis, Charlton Heston and Shirley MacLaine, died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 88. Gilardi was known for his gentlemanly style, love of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his skill at representing top actors. He [...]

  • Nexstar Completes Tribune Acquisition, Sean Compton

    Nexstar Completes Tribune Acquisition, Sean Compton to Head Programming

    Nexstar Media Group has become the nation’s largest owner of TV stations after completing its $4.1 billion acquisition of Tribune Media. The deal creates a broadcasting colossus with more than 200 stations serving more than 100 markets, although a number of stations will be divested to keep Nexstar in compliance with FCC ownership limits. Nexstar, [...]

  • Leaving Neverland HBO

    Judge Sides With Michael Jackson Estate in 'Leaving Neverland' Dispute

    A federal judge is leaning towards granting the Michael Jackson estate’s move to take HBO to arbitration in its dispute over the documentary “Leaving Neverland.” Judge George Wu issued a tentative ruling on Thursday in which he denied HBO’s motion to dismiss the estate’s case. Wu is expected to make the ruling final by the [...]

  • Homecoming

    Peak Storytelling Here as Podcasts, Short Form Ride New Wave

    The concept of peak TV is nothing new. But scratch the surface of original content these days, and it’s no longer about television — from podcasts and short-form video, storytelling itself is at a peak. Thanks to audio, video and other new platform companies including Gimlet, Quibi, Wondery, iHeartMedia and Serial Box, listeners and viewers [...]

  • Patti Smith Cambridge Folk Festival

    Patti Smith Muses Over the Many Ways to Tell a Story

    It’s Sept. 11, and Patti Smith has been thinking a lot about people who died. This is understandable. It is, of course, the 18th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and an annual time of mourning for New York City, the city that Smith adopted as her hometown 50-plus years [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content