Kamila Andini, Indonesian filmmaker and member of the jury at this year’s Busan International Film Festival, said that she would look out for “Asian texture” among the films presented in the festival’s premiere New Currents competition section.
French director Alain Guiraudie said that he would be seeking “new colors” and “new flavors.” He added that he thought Asian cinema could be “enigmatic and mysterious.”
Both were speaking at a meet the press event on Thursday, the first full day of the festival. And jurors have yet to start screening the competition titles.
Festival director Huh Moonyoung was on hand to remind all present that New Currents is the festival’s most prestigious and important section. But his task moderating the session was minimal.
Such was the eloquence and care taken by the jurors that in an hour there was time only for three questions.
Serge Toubiana, jury head, current president of French film export support body Unifrance International, and former editor of critical review Les Cahiers du Cinema, was punctilious about how his jury should function.
“The first thing is to get to know other jury members. Then, after screening the first film we need to find the same language to describe what we are seeing. It is a far from easy thing to do,” he said, recounting a wealth of experience from other festival juries.
Toubiana said that he hoped to find “originality,” “intelligence,” and “the kind of truths that we see as relevant and interesting.” “We want to travel with, be moved and stirred by these films. We want films to disturb our feelings.”
“Once you start watching a film, you forget its origins. It is a singular object, on its own. You enter into a conversation with it. It is new every time,” he added.
Ace Korean producer Lee Eugene was similarly wise. “Of course, there will be different films and different opinions. But I’m of the view that the aspects of films that bring people together are more important,” she said.
Still, the problem of defining what constitutes Asian texture and flavors appeared to stump all of the jury members.
Andini dug deep into her personal journey to make the most complete attempt. “I grew up learning European and American cinema. Many things inspired me. Later, I remember also starting to watch films from my own region. We could only watch world cinema on pirated DVD. Then, I was exposed to films by Ozu, Park Chan-wook, Kim Ki-duk, and Mohsen Makhmalbaf. I felt something very different: characters and scenes that I could see myself in. By watching Asian films, I could be myself, she said. “[Over time, I learned that] it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to tell your own thing.”
Maybe Guiraudie, who expressed doubt about the necessity of film competitions, had it right. “Korean story telling is so unique,” he said. “I’m fascinated by how Korean films come to surprising resolutions. And by the times they don’t.”