BIFF Review: The Brand New Testament

We all know God had a son, but a ten year old daughter?! Now she has a story all her own.
If you’re looking for a good time at the movies, The Brand New Testament has got you covered. The balance of surreal silliness and heart makes this one of the winners of BIFF.

God is a miserable, rumpled middle-aged man stomping around his Brussels apartment in pajamas and bath robe. He spends his days tormenting the human race, which he created specifically for that purpose. His son has run away from home and embarrassed his father, while his wife and daughter are prisoners in their own home. Until, one day, God’s abusive nature turns its focus from humanity to his 10 year old daughter Ea. She gets her revenge when she steals the key to his office and sends everyone on earth a text message telling them when they will die, then blocks her father’s access to his computer (the source of his power, still seemingly running DOS), and escapes to the real world to recruit six more apostles. The stories of those six as they navigate a life whose end date is known, and Ea’s quest to both lift up the world and escape her oppressive father, make Jaco Van Dormael’s The Brand New Testament one of the most enjoyable films to air at BIFF in years.

The Brand New Testament is full of absurdity and tenderness, moments that are at once silly and touching. Ea is a remarkable girl. Her compassion for the slightly broken and mostly lonely apostles she collects would not be as believable in an older character. The gorgeous bombshell with one arm; the middle manager with an untapped love of birds; the sex addict who has never actually had sex; the murderous life insurance salesman; the aging trophy wife with an extreme case of “jungle fever”; and the sickly young boy who wants to be a sickly young girl are all depicted with compassion and warmth, each telling their own backstory until their true story as apostles begins. Perhaps the most love is saved for her scribe, Victor. Homeless and dyslexic, he is the first person Ea meets, and he faithfully records the wisdom of those who follow her. 

The God created by Van Dormael, on the other hand, is pure id – a crass, petulant bully. Early on, we see God gleefully creating annoyances for his people, such as, “the other line always moves faster” and “toast always falls jelly-side-down.” Upon his arrival on Earth, having been mistaken for a homeless bum, God is sent to the emergency room, where he shoves the doctor for not giving him morphine, steals a slice of toast from a young girl in the waiting room, and promptly drops it, with predictable results. Later on, still appearing very homeless, God finds himself in the slow-moving line at a soup kitchen. Within minutes he has been pummeled by both the other patrons and the priest running the kitchen. Seeing this awful character fall victim to his own viciousness is really quite enjoyable, as long as viewers are receptive to blasphemy.

As the Belgian submission for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars, The Brand New Testament is certainly deserving of recognition. Often visually stunning and creatively shot, I found myself too distracted to read the subtitles. There will be those who don’t appreciate the portrayal of God as such a buffoon, but for those willing to take things less seriously, the surreal silliness of The Brand New Testament is not to be missed.

The Latest Haps


Motorcycle Racers Crackdown Brings Over 100 Arrests in Gyeongnam

Over 100 motorcyclists in local racing clubs have been arrested in Gyeongnam after a large crackdown by local authorities.


Teens Rent Car to go on Bike Stealing Spree

A 16-year-old boy was arrested this week on suspicion of stealing 26 bicycles from a military apartment and a high school.


Beautiful Weather Forecasted for this Weekend

The weekend forecast to begin the holiday week is set to be mostly sunny and warm around the southeastern region.


34th Busan International Short Film Festival Gets Underway

For six days, fantastic short films from around the globe are back as the 34th Busan International Short Film Festival begins from April 25-30 at the Busan Cinema Center.


Monthly Ha Ha Hole Returns Friday Night

This Friday, April 21st, at HQ Bar KSU sees the return of the monthly Ha Ha Hole, Busan’s only live English comedy show.


5 Korean Films Make Selection at Cannes This Year

Five Korean films have been selected for the 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in 2017.


Nearly 20% of Married Couples in Busan are Remarried Couples

With the large number of divorces over the past decade in Korea, many divorcees have decided to tie the knot for a second time.


Win Two Round Trip Air Tickets with On The Road Busan

You can win two round trip flight tickets with the “On the Road Busan Travel Stories” competition.


G-Dragon Announces 19-City World Tour

G-Dragon will take his show on the road with his third solo world tour comprising 19 cities, according to his agency Tuesday.


Park Hyatt Hosting Wine Bazaar Until May 9th

The Park Hyatt Busan is holding a “Wine Bazaar” until May 9th at the hotel’s first floor boutique bakery, Patisserie.


HQ Kyungsung to Say Goodbye This Tuesday

The legendary Kyungsung drinking institution, HQ Bar, will shut its doors this Tuesday with a final blow-out party.


Gorilla Brewing Company Begins “Fish and Chips Friday’s”

Gorilla Brewing Company has begun offering “Fish and Chips Friday’s” at its brewery in Gwangalli.


Korea’s Biggest Azalea Festival Begins Next Week in Gyeongsangnam-do

The Hapcheon Hwangmaesan Royal Azalea Festival gets underway for a two week run from April 30th to May 14th.


Great Big Stories Releases Gorgeous Short Film on Jeju’s Mount Halla

Popular video documentary team Great Big Stories has a cool little short about Mount Halla in Jeju that’s worth a look.


Jeju Air Expanding Fleet to 32 Aircraft this Year with a Target of 50 Destinations Next Year

To meet rising demand for in South Korea, low-cost carrier Jeju Air announced that it will expand its fleet to 32 aircraft by December — the announcement coming after the airline’s 29th aircraft, a B737-800, was delivered to Gimpo International Airport over the weekend.


SPO1 to Hold Bike Races in May

An official from SPO1, a public corporation in Busan, said it will hold bicycle races every Monday through the month of May.


Asia Sailing Week 2017 Kicks Off Friday

Three great sailing events spanning 10 days take over the waters around Haeundae Beach beginning April 28th.


Global Gathering International Sports Day 2017 to be Held on Saturday

Global Gathering International Sports Day 2017 will take place at Norimaru playground in Seomyeon on Saturday, April 22, 2017.






HQ bar