×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Busan Film Festival Refines Its Mission for Asian Cinema

The 19th edition of the Busan Film Festival is a comfortingly familiar assortment of Korean, other Asian and global cinema, backed up by a cluster of well-managed industry events, although it surprised many by choosing “Paradise in Service,” Taiwanese director Doze Niu’s wartime nostalgia piece, as the opening film — after all, the film opened commercially in Taiwan nearly a month ago.

The festival has long outgrown its radical origins, which saw it born in 1996 from a frustration with the cultural censorship of the post-military regime and from the passion for independent cinema held by a cluster of critics.

It grew by welcoming foreign films into previously introverted South Korea, and by supporting the modern era of Korean filmmaking, which in just a few years became among the most provocative anywhere in the world.

But the sign of a sophisticated industry is the ability for self-criticism, and midway through this year’s festival a seminar will look at the phenomenon of the Korean blockbuster — films having sold more than 10 million tickets — and ask whether such hits are healthy for the industry as a whole. The debate follows the setting of a B.O. benchmark by “The Admiral: Roaring Currents,” which has sold more than 17 million tickets.

Such overwhelming local success also comes at a time when Korean independents have genuine concerns that the box office spoils are all going to the victorious vertically integrated conglomerates, and as Korean film would like to emulate the export success of K-pop and Korean TV drama sectors. The China market beckons.

Still, the Busan festival represents a film selection unmatched anywhere in Asia. This year, the festival turns its spotlight on Georgian women filmmakers, and new Turkish cinema. One of its galas is given over to “The Golden Era,” and Hong Kong director Ann Hui, who is being feted with the Asian Filmmaker of the Year award.

The festival puts on a significant rights market and, in the Asian Project Market, one of the calendar’s strongest film financing events. These in turn have fueled the growth of the Asian Cinema Fund, the Asian Film Academy and the Ties That Bind, a film development program co-financed with European institutions. With the backing, and constant agitation, of the Busan Film Commission, Busan is also home to the unique Asian Film Policy Forum.

There should be much to talk about in the latenight drinking sessions for which the Haeundae beach area seems perfectly designed.

More Film

  • Guillermo del Toro Alec Baldwin Tribeca

    Guillermo del Toro on Why It's a Director's Duty to Always 'Exceed the Budget'

    Guillermo del Toro has some advice for directors that would leave most studios shaking. “As a director, it is your duty to always responsibly exceed the scope and exceed the budget,” he said. “If you have enough time and enough money, you’re f—ing up.” Del Toro dropped that bit of wisdom during a chat with [...]

  • Michael Hutchence

    Film Review: ‘Mystify: Michael Hutchence'

    “Mystify” — a portrayal of charismatic INXS singer Michael Hutchence, who committed suicide in 1997 at the age of 37 — makes powerful use of family and personal footage to tell the story of a talented man beset by personal demons, but illuminates the influence of a serious head injury that he hid from the [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Harvey Weinstein Sex Crimes Case: Judge Bars Media From Hearing

    Harvey Weinstein’s Friday court hearing in his rape and sexual assault trial will be closed to the media and the public, New York Supreme Court Justice James Burke ruled. The issue of whether or not the movie mogul’s latest court appearance will remain public has been hotly contested in recent weeks. News organizations such as [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    'Avengers: Endgame' Soars to Record-Breaking $60 Million Opening in North America

    Disney-Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” has opened astronomically in North America with a record $60 million in Thursday night preview showings. It’s the top domestic preview number of all time, besting “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at $57 million in 2015. Imax showings scored brought in $4.8 million at 412 locations, the third-highest total of all time. [...]

  • Sophia Anne Caruso and Alex Brightman'Beetlejuice'

    'Beetlejuice' Musical Team Hopes to Attract New Audiences to Broadway

    In the new Broadway adaptation of Tim Burton’s 1988 cult classic film “Beetlejuice,” teenager Lydia takes center-stage alongside the titular gut-busting demon (Alex Brightman) to reflect the famed goth girl’s journey through Beetlejuice’s funhouse of death and disaster. “I think so many people connect to “Beetlejuice” because it’s a story of outsiders, Lydia being the center of [...]

  • Chris Hemsworth'Avengers: Endgame' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Is Chris Hemsworth Ready to Leave the 'Avengers' Franchise?

    Chris Hemsworth isn’t exactly sure when he’ll leave the “Avengers” franchise. “There will come a day,” the “Thor” star told me when we sat down to chat for the second episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s new film podcast. “Whether it’s now or in the future, I don’t know…Who knows what the sort [...]

  • Michael B. JordanLAFH Awards 2019, Los

    Michael B. Jordan, Ronda Rousey Join Efforts to Help the Homeless

    Michael B. Jordan and WWE star Ronda Rousey were just two of the powerhouses that gathered in Hollywood Thursday night for the LA Family Housing’s annual fundraising celebration. The live-auction event, which brought together hundreds of top industry executives, philanthropists, and government partners, aimed to raise $2 million for LAFH, which builds permanent housing and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content