The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) has officially started again, this time in its 18th year, running until October 12. Located in the South Korean port of Busan, which is also the second-largest city in the country, the festival began as a small local event but quickly picked up steam and is now considered perhaps the largest, most important such event in East Asia.
Film reviewers and members of the press flock have flocked to the festival in ever-increasing numbers, and of course this has also led to numerous film stars arriving as well, not only from Korea, but from the rest of Asia and even Western countries. Fans waiting to see their favourite actors, actresses and directors crowd around the red carpet premieres of a host of new films including the world premiere of ‘Vara: A Blessing’ from the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, gala presentations of ‘Kadal’ from India and ‘Nagima’ from Kazakhstan, and a new short film by Korea’s Kim Jee-woon who recently made his name in Hollywood with ‘The Last Stand’. Special sections have been created for Korean Cinema Today, Asian Cinema, World Cinema, retrospectives, and much more.
Although it has already been released in Korean cinemas and received rave reviews and high box-office receipts, the focus is still on Bong Joon-ho’s newest film, ‘Snowpiercer’, which is a global effort, having been filmed in the Czech Republic with partial French funding, and starring a host of American and British actors such as Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton. It has been picked up for distribution in the US by the Weinstein Company and if we’re lucky, a distributor for the UK will be sorted out shortly.
The focus is still on Bong Joon-ho’s newest film, ‘Snowpiercer’, which is a global effort, having been filmed in the Czech Republic with partial French funding, and starring a host of American and British actors
Special guests this year include director Kiyoshi Kurosawa and actor Ken Watanabe from Japan, Indian actress Shahana Goswami from the opening film ‘Vara’, actor Aaron Kwok of Hong Kong, and filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf from Iran, among numerous others. Irish directors Jim Sheridan and Neil Jordan will take part in a hand-printing ceremony, alongside legendary Korean director Im Kwon-taek who visited London last year.
In addition to all of this fun, there will be some serious business going on this year, including an Asian Film Market where film rights are sold to various distribution companies around the world; an Asian Project Market which connects creative film projects with interested investors; a Film Academy which helps train new filmmakers; and a Cinema Fund that is meant to aid projects which need a financial boost, along with the usual conferences and forums. The full, extensive programme for the festival is available at BIFF’s official website.
By Tim Holm