20th Busan International Film Festival

Korea, October 1 - October 10 2015

The jury

Freddy Wong (Hong Kong), Hiroaki Saito (Japan), Ayman Youssef (Egypt), Mo Abdi (UK), Youngmee Hwang (Korea)

Awarded films

This year, the Busan International Film Festival celebrated its 20th anniversary. Without a doubt, Busan has rapidly established itself as the most important film festival in Asia in the last two decades. However, under the shadow of a not entirely friendly relationship with the Busan government, after last year’s political ‘turmoil’, the film festival suffered a rather substantial cut in its budget, yet still managed to put forward an impressive and diversified array of screenings and film events. The festival opened with the Indian film Zubaan directed by Mozez Singh, and closed with the Mainland Chinese film Mountain Cry by Larry Yang.

In total, the Busan festival this year recorded 227,337 theatre visitors, 9,685 accredited guests, 2,325 journalists and 302 films from 75 countries. But statistics and data are not enough to prove the importance and success of a film festival. Apart from the main catalogue, there are at least two interesting books published in English, Asian Cinema 100 and Hidden Masterpieces of the 1960s; the former is a terrific reference guide-book and teaching tool on Asian masterpieces, and the latter focuses on Korean classics.

The jury for New Currents this year is composed of; Sylvia Chang, renowned actress, singer, film producer and director, active in Taiwan and Hong Kong; Anurag Kashyap, writer and film director from India; Kim Tae-yong, film director from Korea; Nastassja Kinski, internationally famous actress from Germany, and Stephanie Zacharek, chief film critic at the Village Voice, from New York. They awarded the best picture, in ex aequo, to the Iranian film Immortal directed by Hadi Mohaghegh, and to the Kazakhstan film Walnut Tree, directed by Yerlan Nurmukhambetov. The FIPRESCI award also went to Hadi Mohaghegh’s Immortal. The NETPAC award was given to Communication And Lies, the debut film of Korean director Lee Seung-won. The Citizen Critics’ Award went to the Korean film Alone by Park Hong-min, and the Busan Cinephile Award went to Italian-French co-production The Other Side directed by Roberto Minervini.

Amidst the numerous parties and receptions during the festival, one did stand out from the others, the Institut Français in Seoul and Unifrance hosted the French Night party to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Busan International Film Festival and their long-term collaboration over the past 20 years. Fleur Pellerin, the French Minister of Culture and Communication, who is actually Korean, born in Seoul in 1973 and adopted by French parents, came to Busan as officiating guest, with French filmmakers Claude Lelouch, Leos Carax, etc. attending. French actress Sophie Marceau also attended the festival by joining an open talk and the Closing Ceremony. (Freddie Wong, edited by Tara Judah)

Busan International Film Festival: www.biff.kr