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Ko - production in Busan
  • All Eyes on Asia’s Largest Film Festival
  • by Pierce Conran /  Oct 13, 2013
  • The 18th Busan Intl. Film Festival and 8th Asian Film Market

    Ten days of films, deals and parties came to an end on Sunday, when the Busan International Film Festival closed the doors on its 18th edition. Though it can be hard to keep up in the midst BIFF’s hustle and bustle, nevertheless a few key events, announcements and films made their presences felt.
    The Korean film industry produces a lot of films that are released year-round, either in various global festivals or directly in local theaters. However, no place is better than the Busan Film Festival to check the pulse of Korean cinema and discover the freshest gems from the country. This year’s festival was no exception with dozens new feature Korean films peppered through the program’s many sections.
    Among the most buzzed about Korean films going into this year’s event were a few prominent works that had already gained reputations from previous festivals and/or local theatrical releases. KIM Ki-duk’s incendiary new feature Moebius, which premiered out of competition in Venice, was the subject of a lot of animated discussion, while YEUN Sang-ho’s dark new animation The Fake, a Toronto premiere, left a strong impression on many. The most buzzed about film was BONG Joon-ho’s highly anticipated sci-fi blockbuster Snowpiercer, this year’s biggest Gala presentation. Director BONG and star SONG Kang-ho were on hand to promote the film to the delight of many. In addition, there came late in the festival a surprise announcement as Quentin Tarantino attended the festival to join BONG Joon-ho for an Open Talk on Snowpiercer, an event that immediately drummed up a lot of curiosity.
    As with any big international festival, Busan is also a grounds for discover and with many Korean premieres to choose from, there are always a few discoveries to be found. As visiting press, festival programmers and guests made their way through the program, a few consensus picks began to emerge throughout the ten days. Among those was the documentary Non Fiction Diary, a tour de force through some of the darkest moments of recent Korean history, all tied together with some very dynamic pacing, editing and music. KIM Jae-han’s debut Thuy followed a recent spat of films about immigration as it chronicles the travails of a Vietnamese woman as she investigates the mysterious of her Korean husband. Making its presence known a little late in the festival was Han Gong-ju, another debut (this time from LEE Su-jin) that features a girl forced to transfer schools following an incident that isn’t immediately revealed has moved many critics and audiences.
    On Monday the 7th, the 8th Asian Film Market (AFM) kicked off, along with the Asian Project Market (APM), the Asian Film Policy Forum and the Busan International Film Commission and Industry Showcase (BIFCOM). The Korean Film Council (KOFIC) occupied the central stand on the market floor and was surrounded by booths representing all the major local distributors, commissions and visual effects companies, as well as a wide array of international companies. One of the chief aims of AFM this year was to discuss Korean-Chinese film collaboration. Following a tentative agreement signed by the governments of each country this June, which would allow Chinese films to avail of Korean incentives and for Korean films to bypass Chinese import quotas, local executives hinted that the deal may become official as early as this month during one of the forum’s sessions.
    With its impending move to Busan on the 25th of this month, KOFIC was the topic of many discussions in and out of the market. What’s more, it celebrated its 40th anniversary this year and staged a very well attended reception in the Paradise Hotel on Tuesday, October 8th. KOFIC was also heavily involved in the project market this year with a selection ‘Ko-productions.’ While these projects encompassed a number of countries, many were set as China-Korea productions for local filmmakers seeking to capitalize on their neighbor’s growing prospects. KOFIC has also been operating a local Beijing office in the hopes of actuating new co-productions.
    The Asian Project Market wrapped up its 2013 edition by recording a 16% rise in market badge holders (1,272) while a record 4,000 industry professionals visited the market floor. 198 companies were represented in 92 booths, each conducting 50 meetings on average. A total of 10,000 meetings took place with an estimated 150 of those expected to wind up with deals.
    The Asian Project Market handed out nine sponsored awards (up from seven last year) during the Asian Film Market’s closing ceremony on Thursday, October 10th. Earning the top award (the Busan Prize) was KIM Jee-woon’s much-talked about Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, a Korea-set remake of the 1999 Japanese anime of the same name by OKIYURA Hiroki. The project was awarded a USD 20,000 cash prize.
    Following the top prize were the CJ Entertainment and Lotte Awards (both worth USD 10,000), which went to Benito Bautista’s Samuel Over the Rainbow and KANG Yi-kwan’s new project OTS Virus Project, respectively. The PanStar Cruise Award, KOCCA Award and Creative Director Award (from BIFF), each Development Fund prizes worth USD 10,000 were handed out to LEE Seo’s Have a Nice Trip!, Eron Sheean’s Australian End of Animal remake and Wayne WANG’s While the Women Are Sleeping, respectively. A USD 25,000 post-production award from Technicolor Asia went to WANG Wei-ming’s Sex Appeal and ARTE International’s USD 6,000 development funding support prize was won by Edwin’s Exotic Pictures. Finally, the Funding 21 award, which selects a project for crowdfunding, went to Zhang LU’s Gyeongju.
    Looking at the main festival awards, AHN Sun-kyoung’s Pascha and the Mongolian Remote Control shared the New Currents top prize, which each feature receiving USD 30,000. The Sonje Award for best shorts went to the Indonesian A Lady Caddy Who Never Saw a Hole in One and SON Tae-gyum’s In the Summer. Meanwhile, documentaries Streetside Jalanan, also from Indonesia, and JUNG Yoon-suk’s Non Fiction picked up the Mecenat Awards. New Currents film 10 Minutes, by director LEE Yong-seung, picked up the KNN and FIPRESCI prizes while LEE Yu-bin’s Shuttlecock won the NETPAC award. Shuttlecock also shared the Citizen’s Reviewers Award with HAN Gong-ju, the latter also picking up the CGV Movie Collage Award.
    All told the 18th Busan International Film Festival introduced a number of strong new Korean films, featured a dizzying amount of programs, guests and events and saw its attendance remain almost flat, with 217,865 admissions versus 221,002 last year, in spite of severe weather conditions when a typhoon dampened the proceedings mid-fest.

    By Pierce Conran
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