September 21, 2021

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Busan Film Festival: Personally wants to unveil events, strategic change

3 min read

The largest film festival in Asia, the Busan International Film Festival is more relevant to the greater Asia region and at the same time aims to connect with its local community.

This year, it has been reduced compared to the pre-epidemic era. But in 2021 there will still be 223 films (features and shorts) from 70 regions. All feature films will receive multiple individual screenings in six complexes with a total of 229 screens. This is an improvement in 2020, when movies will only be shown in theaters once, but each location will be limited to 50% capacity and all tickets must be saved online and in advance.

The 2nd edition of the festival will run until October 1-16, 2021.

Hu Moon-Young, director of the new festival, acknowledged that coronavirus conditions in the Asia-Pacific Ocean have now made it “almost impossible” for many visitors from Asia to travel to the festival. He predicted only 20-30 European and American visitors.

Programming head Nam Dong-chul says the festival is limited to just three gala presentations, as only two international directors are willing and able to travel: Leos Caracas of France with his Cannes film “Annette” and another Cannes film “Drive My Car” with Hamaguchi Ryasuk of Japan. And his predecessor, The Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy.

The opening and closing ceremonies of the festival, open discussions and greetings from outside fans will be held in person. Organizers said the opening ceremony of the purpose-built Busan Cinema Center would be limited to 1,200 spectators.

Unlike last year’s festival, a real-world press center will also be open. But Asian Cinema Fund, Asian Film Academy and Platform Busan events have been postponed this year.

The previously announced opening film is Im Sang-su’s “Paradise: Land of Happiness,” a title previously selected for the canceled 2020 edition of Cannes. Hong Kong singer-actor Anita Mui’s biopic ‘Anita’ directed by Longman Leung was announced to be closed on Tuesday.

Asian content and film markets will once again be held online. Among the markets, the Entertainment Intellectual Property Market (E-IP Market) and the Asian Project Market (APM) will hold face-to-face meetings on the market site for physical participants in Korea.

Before announcing its annual lineup on Wednesday, the festival unveiled a plan for a ten-year restructuring program.

Lee Young-quan, chairman of the festival, said the restructuring program would be finalized by February 2022 and then submitted to city authorities for approval. The Busan mayor, who was in person at the line-up announcement, strongly supported the festival, which he called “the best in Asia.”

Even before that, the festival is launching two new categories this year. It recently announced the launch of an on-screen section to give the streaming series a festival platform. So far it has announced three, but Huh says more could be added. He said there are no more boundaries between the film and the series.

In the second step, the festival is creating a “house of actors”, where the actors interact with the audience in conversations about their careers. During the 2020 edition of the festival, simultaneous screenings and guest visits took place in Thailand and Vietnam. This year, live guest visits will be held in Thailand and Singapore.

Hu acknowledged that coronavirus conditions in the Asia-Pacific Ocean now make it almost “impossible” for many visitors from Asia to travel to the festival. He predicted only 20-30 European and American visitors.

Veteran Korean director Im Kwan-tae was named Asian Filmmaker of the Year and will receive a personal award at the festival. As previously announced, the festival’s other honorary awards will be given to Korean film award producer Lee Chun-young.

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