As pressure mounts ahead of the world premiere of “The Truth Shall Not Sink with Sewol” (aka “Diving Bell”) on Monday, BIFF organizers announced late Sunday evening that they would go ahead with the screening.
The documentary, co-directed by Lee Sang-ho and Ahn Hae-ryong focuses on the use of the diving bell, the proper use of which may have saved lives in the largely failed rescue efforts in the aftermath of Korea’s deadliest ferry disaster which killed 304 people in April.
Busan issued a four-point statement, affirming that Monday’s screening will go ahead as scheduled. It also said that “in the 19 years of BIFF’s history, there has not been a single case of a screening being cancelled due to outside pressure. This has been to keep a sense of independence and the freedom of expression at the festival.”
The statement also said, “there can be criticism about films shown at the film festival but there is a clear difference between criticizing a film which is screened and demanding the cancellation of a film.” It went on to say that the film in question has not yet had a public screening, adding that demands to remove a film from the line-up is a threat to the identity and the very existence of BIFF.
Busan organizers also urged those for and against the screening to “refrain from extreme activities during the festival.”
This year’s BIFF has been serving as a rallying point for Korean filmmakers supporting the passage of a special bill aimed at determining the truth behind April’s ferry sinking.
Calls have been made by the Busan Mayor and Festival Chairman Seo Byung-soo as well as other politicians belonging to the ruling Saenuri party to BIFF organizers to remove the documentary citing its “biased content.” Mayor Seo and others critical of its content have yet to watch the 85-minute documentary.