BUSAN — “The fact that it’s here and celebrating its 21st anniversary,” was the most telling comment by Busan ‘New Currents’ juror and festival director of International Film Festival Rotterdam Bero Beyer, speaking at a press conference on Friday.
The mood was jubilation that the Busan International Film Festival continues to exist — despite its recent struggles.
Beyer’s fellow juror, Indian producer Guneet Monga whose credits include “The Lunchbox,” “The Congress,” and “Tigers,” and whose “Zubaan” opened the 2015 edition of Busan, said: “Coming here with ‘Zubaan’ was a life altering experience. I cannot imagine a year without Busan. I look forward to coming here every year.”
“It was very hard to prepare for this year’s festival. And through all these hardships, the jury members have held our hand,” festival director and celebrated Korean actress Kang Soo-youn said.
“IFFR feels very connected to Busan. We are a platform for free speech and we feel Busan is the same. Free platforms of cinematographic art are precious and should remain free. We continue to express our support. We are all one big family. It’s fantastic that they are here. Berlin, Venice and Locarno feel the same. And I hope it goes on for another 21 years and another 21 years and another 21 years,” Beyer said.
The focus finally shifted to the matter at hand, the 11 films from across Asia competing for Busan’s New Currents Award given to the two best features selected from the first or second works of new Asian directors with a cash prize of $30,000 each. Juror Mahmoud Kalari, the Iranian cinematographer whose credits include Abbas Kiarostami’s “The Wind Will Carry Us” and Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation,”,said: “This is the future of cinema. First or second movies are often a filmmaker’s best work.”
Jury head, Souleymane Cisse, the revered Malian filmmaker whose credits include “Brightness” and “Tell Me Who You Are,” said: “We are embarking on a journey for a very positive future.”
Juror, Zhang Lu, whose “A Quiet Dream” opened the festival on Thursday and whose “Grain in Ear” won the New Currents Award in 2005, said: “The little people keep on moving. They keep working hard till the end like Abbas Kiarostami. And that’s what I’ll try to do till the end of my life.”