BUSAN, South Korea – The 16th edition of the Busan International Film Festival came to a close yesterday, after a nine day run around Haeundae. The festival ended with another packed house at the Busan Cinema Center who came to watch the closing ceremonies and the final film “Chronicle of My Mother”, a Japanese movie based on renowned Japanese writer Inoue Yasushi ’s autobiographical novel.
Iranian Morteza Farshbaf’s "Mourning", which follows the story of a deaf-mute couple who left to care for a young boy after his parents are killed in a car accident, and first-time Filipino director Loy Arcenas with his family drama "Nino" which focuses on how people are pulled apart by greed, shared the US$30,000 prize given in the New Currents award, while the other US$30,000 Flash Forward prize for young non-Asian filmmakers was won by Italian director Guido Lombardi for "La Bas — A Criminal Education".
Winner: The Busan Cinema Center
The $157 million dollar center designed by Austrian firm Coop Himmelb(l)au is a beautiful complex, and a great addition to the city. Though the opening and closing ceremonies have less people than previous years, the facility is a top notch addition to the festival.
Loser: Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Co.
Structural cracks in the facility during yesterday’s closing ceremony led to rainwater leaking through at least a dozen cracks – prompting festival chairman Lee Yong-kwan to express regret and convene an emergency meeting. Lee blamed the Korean company for the incident.
Winner: Lee Yong-kwan
New festival director Lee Yong-kwan did an admirable job in his first year at the post, taking over from the 15-year veteran Kim Dong-ho. Lee was scattered around the festival, but still was readily available and accessible throughout.
Loser: The Hollywood Reporter
Though they did an admirable job covering the event daily, a lack of local knowledge prevented visiting fans and journalists to really understand the city. And when you mistake a “hanbok” for a “handok” in an article, it’s clear that some local knowledge of the culture and city are needed.
Winner: Asian Film Market
The sixth edition of the Asian Film Market moved to BEXCO this year, making it much easier for companies to intermingle and network. The result: 113% increase in exhibition booths, and 38% in participants compared with the previous year.
While almost everything BIFF related has moved to Haeundae and Centum City, the old days of the festival are a thing of the past. Nampodong, the original location of the festival, has become obsolete for the festival, and the local shops and restaurants suffer because of it, once again leaving older parts of Busan out of the money pie.
Winner: Michelle Yeoh and Luc Besson
During Wednesday’s press conference, Yeoh and Besson were stunned to hear the news that Zarganon, a dissident comedian in Burma was released, only moments after having explained that “Burma will not be a democracy until he is released.” Their excitement and joy of the news showed a side of celebrities that they indeed are human too.
The Hong Kong film director and producer was a last minute no show to BIFF, disappointing fans and festival organizers.
Winner: China Film
With the lack of presence from Hollywood this year, Chinese stars and movies got a nice bump in exposure with Tang Wei, and Fan Bingbing getting a lot more press. Hollywood’s noticeable absence was unfortunately well noticed around the press center and in print.
Once again, ticket sales were great, but the ticketing system still needs to be improved upon somehow. Many fans were discouraged from buying tickets, and others just bought them and didn’t show up leaving some theaters with an abundance of empty seats. Additionally, having to register as a non-Korean on Korean websites made it difficult for foreign fans to buy tickets.
Sonje Award (Short Films)
Winner (Asia): Thug Beram — Venkat Amudhan (India)
Special Mention: DIY Encouragement — Kohei Yoshino (Japan)
Winner (Korea): See You Tomorrow — Lee Woo-jung
Special Mention: Bugging Heaven; Listen to Her — O Hyun-ju
BIFF Mecenat Award (Documentaries)
Sea of Butterfly — Park Bae-il (Korea)
Shoji & Takao — Yoko Ide (Japan)
KNN Movie Award (Audience Award)
Watch Indian Circus — Mangesh Hadawale (India)
FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) Award
Mourning — Morteza FARSHBAF (Iran)
NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) Award
The King of Pigs — Yeun Sang Ho (Korea)
Busan Cinephile Award
The Twin — Gustav Danielsson (Sweden)
Citizen Reviewers’ Award
Blue Pine Tree: Jesus Hospital — Lee Sangcheol, Shin Aga (Korea)
Red Pine Tree: A Fish — Park Hong-Min (Korea)
Yellow: Romance Joe — Lee Kwangkuk (Korea)