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Busan: Art House Giants Talk New Projects, Solidarity in Cinema

Three of Asia’s top filmmakers, Taiwan’s Hou Hsiao-hsien, Japan’s Kore-eda Hirokazu and Korea’s Lee Chang-dong, used the Busan Film Festival as a platform to tease their upcoming films and projects in development.

“It is a mystery thriller,” said Lee. “It is a story about young people in today’s world. When they think of the world and their own lives, I think it must feel like a mystery. If everything goes well, I’ll start shooting next month.” His new film is tentatively titled “Burning,” and is a co-production between Lee’s brother-producer Lee Joon-dong’s Now Film and Oh Jung-wan’s Bom Film Productions. It will be Lee’s first film in seven years since 2010’s “Poetry.”

Kore-eda is developing a courtroom drama.“Over the years, I’ve always had the same question: why I would always make family dramas,” said the Japanese director. “This time, it is not. It will be a suspense courtroom drama that revolves around a murder case.”

Hou, the eldest of the three, did not mention a specific project. “For a while, it will be difficult for me to make another film like ‘Assassin,’ as it requires so much preparation,” he said. “Like I made ‘Goodbye South, Goodbye,’ which only took 17 days to shoot, after ‘Good Men, Good Women,’ I am thinking that the film that comes after ‘Assassin’ must be something simpler, and modern.”

Instead, the 68-year-old director revealed his producing project with a TV station in Taiwan. Hou has selected five rising Taiwan-based directors and will be involved in their works as executive producer. The project starts next year with a total budget of US$480,000 (NT$15 million.)

“I believe it can expand to other territories in Asia, once it is successfully launched in Taiwan,” he said.

Speaking at a special talk session about solidarity in Asian cinema, the three masters agreed that they have each been influenced by each other’s work. Supporting each other’s success in filmmaking is itself a form of solidarity.

They also spoke with one voice, insisting that the Busan festival is a place that ties Asian filmmakers and audiences together.

“I think a good festival is where people come and think of what they can do for cinema, and how to protect it,” said Kore-eda. “The kind of solidarity that filmmakers have formed to protect cinema for the past two years shows what the Busan festival has become through its 21-year-long history.”

“It would be a great loss to the film industry if we lose the BIFF,” said Hou. “Busan is an imperfect city without the festival. […] if the festival is in trouble again (I hope that the organizers call) me to show up and add a voice.”

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