Busan: New Fest Co-Director, Kang Soo-youn, Pushes for Fest’s Independence

In early July, actress Kang Soo-youn was appointed to co-direct the then-struggling Busan Intl. Film Festival. At all official events held afterward, the iconic actress firmly declared her determination to keep BIFF’s programming independent of political pressure. “I keep saying it; the BIFF is of critical importance for film industries not only in Korea but also for the entire Asian region,” Kang tells Variety. “It needs to be protected, and for me it is more than just natural that I should do anything if I can be of any help.”

What was your duty as the new co-director?

I couldn’t get involved in every detail of the festival since I joined the committee late. One of my major missions was to arbitrate between the city council and the BIFF so that the festival can smoothly prep for the new edition.

Co-director Lee Yong-kwan says he is relieved to have you as the new partner.

He has been there since the beginning of the BIFF, and we’ve known each other ever since (Kang has been on the festival’s executive committee since 1998). Also, because we both completely understand the festival’s identity and how it has made it this far, questions and explanations are unnecessary between us. It can’t be more comfortable working with him.

How would you sum up the 20th BIFF in a single word?

A new start, maybe. It took the BIFF two decades to settle and be acknowledged as a leading international film festival. As a mature film festival now, we should get down to discovering new films, new markets and new programs from this year on.

Many would still refer to you as the Venice-winning actress in “The Surrogate Womb.” Will you still pursue acting opportunities while you are directing the festival?

Most definitely, that goes without saying.

What would you be if you were not an actress?

Why not a housewife with five kids?

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