Top prizes at the Busan Film Festival were shared between Iranian director Hadi Mohaghegh’s “Immortal” and Kazakh director Yerlan Nurmukhambetov’s “Walnut Tree.”
Prizes for the New Currents competition section were announced Saturday morning and selected by a jury headed by Taiwanese actress, director and screenwriter Sylvia Chang.
The awards were formally presented to the winners Saturday evening at a closing ceremony ahead of the screening of Chinese film “Mountain Cry.” The closing ceremony took place under the rain and with attendees wearing rain jackets.
Kurdish singer Helly Luv performed “Revolution,” a song from Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi’s “A Flag without a Country.” According to Kim Ji-seok, the festival’s executive programmer, the festival had kept Luv’s performance under wraps until the very last minute, as she has repeatedly threatened by the Islamic State. “Revolution” conveys a message of peace and anti-war, as well as anti-IS. New Currents winner Hadi Mohaghegh also sang a song, instead of an acceptance speech.
Festival organizers said that it welcomed 227,000 visitors, a slight increase on last year. Over its ten day span, the festival hosted celebrities including Hou Hsiao Hsien, Leos Carax, Harvey Keitel, French actress Sophie Marceau and Korean star Yoo A-in.
“Immortal” is the story of an old man who repeatedly attempts suicide from a guilty conscience. “Walnut Tree” is the story of a wedding comedy that shows up everyday life in a small village. It is Nurmukhambetov’s first feature .
“’Immortal’ is an extraordinary feat of visual storytelling, filled with emotion. It is partly about how to die, but mostly about how to live, and how to keep our dignity as human beings. It is a beautiful film,” said Chang. “’Walnut Tree’ is a film that shows a way of life that’s unfamiliar to most of us but proves how humor, kindness and forgiveness connect us all.”
Headed by Germany’s Film at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt programmer, Doris Hegner, the BIFF Mecenat Awards went to Korea’s “Boys Run” by Kang Seok-pil and China’s “Look Love,” by Ye Yun. Korean director Kim Young-jo’s “Still and All” earned a special mention.
The Sonje Awards were shared by Korean director Lee Eun-jeong’s “Shame Diary,” and “Nia’s Door” by Taiwanese director Lau Kek Huat.
The actor & actress of the year award, given to on screen talent in a Korean Cinema Today—Vision section title, went to Lee Ju-won of “Alone” and to Jang Sun of “Communication & Lies.”