Making the Most of Your BIFF Experience
The Busan International Film Festival is upon us! This year, a total of 307 films from 70 countries will be screened at the nine-day festival from October 6-14. Japanese actor Odagiri Joe and French filmmaker Luc Besson are among the notable names set to make an appearance at the highly anticipated event next month.
The most striking difference between the film festival this year and years past is the opening of the Busan Cinema Center. The center, which is located in Haeundae’s Centum City, is scheduled for completion by September 29. The nine-story structure was designed by Austrian design firm Coop Himmelb(l)au and cost a whopping 167,850,000,000 (approx. 144 million U.S. dollars)
The center features a 24-meter-by-13-meter screen and can seat 4,500 people. The 163-meter cantilever roof is the longest in the world and one of the center’s most unique features. Anchored by a column on one end and suspended in the air on the other end, the roof is not only functional but also convenient for the opening ceremony, which will be held outdoors.
The multiplex also boasts four indoor theaters, with a total of 1,700 seats, and a convention center to host a variety of film-related events.
This new addition to the festival is also expected to minimize human traffic. Attendants need not leave the downtown area to enjoy the festival because the films will be screened at five Haeundae venues, including the Busan Cinema Center, Centum City CGV, Lotte Cinema in Centum City, Community Media Center and Megabox Haeundae.
More than just a theater, the center will house offices as well as the Busan Asia Film Archive. With its various state-of-the-art facilities, the center hopes to be the heart of the domestic film industry.
For movie junkies, the Busan International Film Festival is, needless to say, the go-to event of the year.
The festival’s opening film will be director Song Il Gon’s Always. The film, which stars So Ji Sup and Han Hyo Joo, chronicles the fatal love story of a former boxer and telephone operator who leads a cheerful life although she is losing her eyesight. At a press conference for the film festival held on September 8, So said, “This was my third film, and I’m bewildered to be standing at such an honorable place. Please enjoy the film.”
Chronicle of My Mother, a film adaptation of celebrated writer Yasushi Inoue’s autobiographical novel about a mother’s unconditional love for her son directed by actor and director Harada Masato, will close the festival.
The festival will also feature a retrospective for veteran director Kim Kee Duk, who made numerous movies during the 1960s and led the renaissance of Korean cinema. The program will include screenings of The Five Marines, The Barefooted Young, North & South and Monster Yonggari.
The Korean Cinema Today program will feature The Last Weapon, Bow, Sunny, Blue Salt and The Day He Arrives as well as other current popular films.
India, China, Iran, France, Turkey, the U.S., Thailand, the Philippines, the Netherlands and Kazakhstan are among the many other countries to be represented at this year’s festival.
Every year, movie stars from around the world flock to Busan for the prestigious film festival, and this year is no exception. So Ji Sub and Han Hyo Joo, stars of the opening film, Always, are set to make an appearance at the star-studded nine-day event on opening night.
Japanese actor Odagiri Joe will serve as a judge for the New Currents category. The actor, who worked with Jang Dong Gun in Kang Jae Gyu’s My Way, has a special connection to Korea.
Well-known for her impressive performance in Farewell My Concubine, Chinese actress Jiang Wenli will also be a judge for the New Currents category this year. The actress was awarded the KNN Audience Award at the 2009 Busan International Film Festival.
Rising star Kim Kkot Bi, who won the Best New Actress Award at the Daejong Film Festival for her performance in Breathless, will serve as a judge for the Wide Angle Award in the Short Film competition.
Hark Tsui, Director of Once Upon a Time in China, The Killer, A Chinese Ghost Story and Dragon Inn, will receive the Asian Filmmaker of the Year Award at this year’s festival. Luc Besson, director of The Professional, and Peter Chan, of Comrades: Almost a Love Story-fame, are among the filmmakers making their way to Busan for the film festival. Actress Michelle Yeoh and actor Tsumabuki Satoshi will also walk the red carpet this year.
The Open Talk session at Haeundae Beach, where world-renowned directors and actors will gather to meet with fans, is one of the most highly anticipated festival events.
Energizing the film industry
The Busan Film Festival is a hub for film industry professionals, not just movie lovers. Chairman Lee Yong Gwan revealed, “Compared to how quickly the festival has grown, the market results have been insignificant. This year, we poured our efforts into vitalizing the market.” Evidence of such marketing efforts can be seen throughout the festival. For one, the event location has been moved from a hotel to the Busan Exhibition & Convention Center (BEXCO). Seventy companies will set up shop to sell their films there.
The event organizer said, “It has been difficult to meet buyers from Europe and the U.S. in the Asian film market. However, we took the initiative in actively inviting buyers to the festival, and we’re expecting more than double the number of buyers this year.”
A workshop to facilitate joint film production efforts between Europe and Asia will also be held during the festival. This is to enable the exchange of Asian films beyond Asia and with the rest of the world.
Under the umbrella of United Asia Management, talent agencies like SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, YG Entertainment, Star-J and Key East will gather to discuss overseas expansion strategies and share resources in order to get their actors cast in foreign films.
Translation credit: Nancy Lee
- BIFF 20110926