Asia’s biggest annual film festival in Busan, South Korea is to be postponed by two weeks due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. And organizers warned that the festival could still be canceled outright.
At a meeting Friday between the festival’s board of directors and the city authorities, it was decided to shift the event backwards. It will now run Oct,. 21-30, 2020.
“Concern over the spread of COVID-19 after Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) holidays was the main reason behind the rescheduling,” the festival said. “However, if Level Two social distancing protocol is continued or escalated during the rescheduled festival period, Busan International Film Festival may ultimately be canceled.”
All outdoor events are canceled, including the opening and closing ceremonies, outdoor greetings, and open talk sessions, in order to prevent crowds from gathering. “There will be no international invitations, nor will there be any receptions or parties hosted to provide networking opportunities for film industry professionals,” the festival said in a statement.
In order to concentrate largely on film screenings, and minimize other events, official selections will only be screened at Busan Cinema Center, Centum City in compliance with the governmental guidelines. The newly renamed Asian Contents & Film Market, Asian Project Market, and Forum BIFF will all be hosted online.
Further details will be announced Monday afternoon at a press briefing.
The government raised the social distancing guidelines from Level 1 to Level 2 (on a scale of 1 to 3) for the whole country on Aug. 23, after coronavirus infection rates began to climb above 100 per day. In capital city Seoul, authorities have adopted a “Level 2.5” since Aug. 31 as the the capital city became a new epicenter.
New infection rates have since fallen, and Seoul’s current alert status is expected to be reduced in the next few days. But it is feared that the Chuseok period, when people traditionally travel and meet up with family, could send contamination higher all over again.