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Busan: Hirokazu Kore-eda Preaches Film Industry Solidarity, Plays Down Korea-Japan Political Rift

Hirokazu Kore-edaVariety Studio at Toronto International
Michael Hurcomb/Variety/Shutterstock

Leading Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda, who Saturday was given the Asian Film Maker of the Year Award in Busan, said that the film industry should put aside political differences and instead pull together.

South Korea and Japan are currently locked in a bitter diplomatic feud that sprang from a recent court ruling about World War II atrocities, but which has now spread to include trade restrictions on tech exports, and in South Korea a consumer boycott of Japanese goods, including beer, cosmetic products and cars.

“When there are hard times such as the political issues, I believe it is important for the filmmakers to show that we can band together even more strongly [in times like this]. That made me be here in Busan today, and I trust that this venue is full of people who believe in the power of cinema,” he said.

Kore-eda explained that the Busan festival’s own recent history offers a lesson in “solidarity.” “Some five years ago, the Busan festival suffered political oppression. It was in such difficult condition that it might not even have gone ahead. At that time, filmmakers around the globe, including myself, raised their voices and supported the BIFF,” Kore-eda said.

Kore-eda is in town to present his latest film, “The Truth,” at a gala premiere. He also picked up the Film Maker Award, which he had been unable to collect at the Busan festival opening on Thursday.

“It is a great pleasure to receive such a meaningful award in this very important year when Korean cinema is celebrating its centenary. It is an honor to receive the award from the festival that has grown with me, overcoming lots of sufferings together,” he said.

“I have always been stimulated and inspired by works of my fellow filmmakers in Asia, such as Taiwan’s Hou Hsiao-hsien, Korea’s Lee Chang-dong and China’s Jia Zhangke. For the past 25 years, I have hoped to make films that I would not be ashamed to show to them. My identity as an Asian filmmaker is always there at the bottom of my consciousness.

“When I sense that people from totally different countries are connected through cinema and that they are sharing the same perspective, I feel supreme bliss.”