Macedonian actor and producer Labina Mitevska has called for gender parity in film festival programming. Speaking at a press conference to introduce the Busan New Currents jury, juror Mitevska said, “When art is good, its good, no matter if it is male or female. We need to have more female programmers, most of them are men. Things need to change, and it needs to be fast.”

Mitevska is a co-producer on Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “The Wild Pear Tree”, which played at Cannes in competition and is Turkey’s entry in the Oscar foreign-language race. Speaking about the “macho Balkan culture,” Mitesvka recalled her experience working on a production 17 years ago where she and her sister, the writer/director Teona Strugar Mitevska, would return home in tears after every day of the shoot. She recounted how 20 men would stand around, ignoring Teona’s instructions on where to place the camera, on the grounds that it was a fight scene that was being shot, and the men would know better.

Veteran producer and fellow juror Nansun Shi (“Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings”) commiserated with Mitevska and said, “The Hong Kong film industry is not prejudiced. In Hong Kong and China we are less prejudiced than other parts of the world.”

Otherwise, the mood at the press conference was that of optimism and confidence. Shi and Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley expressed their delight at Busan’s return to normalcy after weathering a political storm for the past few years. The New Currents award will go to one or two of 10 debut features from across Asia, all of them world premieres at Busan.

Moodley, a Busan regular, said, “To me Busan is the most important platform to discover Asian cinema. You can see that from the number of international programmers here. All of us making and programming film seek inspiration from the late, legendary Busan programmer Kim Ji-seok. It’s a joy to be here and carry forward his legacy.”

Head juror, the Korean filmmaker Kim Hong-joon (“Rosy Life”), said, “This year will be a leap forward for the development of the festival. I think we’re having a new wave in Asian cinema. We have high expectations.”

The jury also includes Japanese actor Jun Kunimura (“The Wailing”).