The 10 nominees for the inaugural Kim Ji-seok awards, named after the late Busan festival program director, are a true reflection of the diversity of Asia itself.
One of the founding fathers of the Busan festival, Kim spent more than 20 years of his life nurturing young Asian filmmakers, leading many of them to describe him as the “heart of Asian cinema.” The nominees are chosen from films that have their world premiere at the festival’s A Window on Asian Cinema strand. The two winning filmmakers will receive $10,000 each.
Most of the nominated films hold up a mirror to contemporary Asian society. Li Xiaofeng’s “Ash,” for example, pictured above, explores the greed and violence that is present under the surface of Chinese society, while Zhang Miaoyan’s “Silent Mist” looks at a series of rapes in a village in Southern China and the reluctance of the residents to address the crimes.
Elsewhere, Yang Ya-Che’s “The Bold, the Corrupt and the Beautiful,” as the title suggests, looks at criminality, drugs and corruption in Taiwan, while Ismail Basbeth’s “The Carousel Never Stops Turning” mines micro-histories of disparate lives in Indonesia to provide a picture of contemporary society.
Navin Subba’s “Goodbye Kathmandu” harks back to 2004 when Nepal was riven by civil war by dramatizing the lives of three young men who are deeply affected by the ongoing conflict, while Kishi Yoshiyuki’s “Wilderness” flashes forward to 2021 Japan where the country is beset by youth unemployment, suicides and a failing social welfare system.
In Anucha Boonyawatana’s “Malila: The Farewell Flower,” the fragility of love with a backdrop of karma and reincarnation in Thailand is examined, while in Dipesh Jain’s “In the Shadows,” the lives of two people escaping a violent form of love intersect in the crowded alleyways of Delhi.
Raya Martin’s “Smaller and Smaller Circles” and Yoshida Daihachi’s “The Scythian Lamb” both evaluate the link between good and evil in very different ways – the former in Manila and the latter in Japan.
A three-man jury consisting of critic and curator Tony Rayns, former Variety correspondent Darcy Paquet and Indonesian director Garin Nugruho will select the prizes. Whoever the eventual winners are, they have already done Kim proud.
“Ash,” Li Xiaofeng (China)
“The Bold, the Corrupt and the Beautiful,” Yang Ya-Che (Taiwan)
“The Carousel Never Stops Turning,” Ismail Basbeth (Indonesia)
“Goodbye Kathmandu,” Nabin Subba (Nepal)
“In the Shadows,” Dipesh Jain (India/U.K.)
“Malila: The Farewell Flower,” Anucha Boonyawatana (Thailand)
“The Scythian Lamb,” Yoshida Daihachi (Japan)
“Silent Mist,” Zhang Miaoyan (China/France)
“Smaller and Smaller Circles,” Raya Martin (Philippines)
“Wilderness,” Kishi Yoshiyuki (Japan)