Young Talents with a Promising Future

in 19th Busan International Film Festival

by György Kárpáti

At the 19th Busan International Film Festival the FIPRESCI jury judged the New Currents section. This competition section contained 12 films from 10 countries and the festival hoped to find young talents who will play leading roles in the Asian Film Industry. Two films were especially unique among the New Currents: one came from Bangladesh (Jalal’s Story) and one from Lebanon (Ghadi) – both countries were newly invited and have never been in Busan before. The latter is about parents who have conflicts with their villagers because of their loudly singing disabled son. In Jalal’s Story there is also a neglected child whose life we can follow in three episodes: in each story we see poor Jalal as he is abandoned in his temporary family.

Next to Bangladesh and Lebanon two pieces came from Korea (End of Winter and we Will be OK) and Iran and one from Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, India, China and Iraq. Most of the films dealt with contemporary issues, social problems and conflicts concerning youth, growing up and facing generational difficulties. Some of the movies focused on the topic with realism, others were rather auteur styled and offered more universal and lyrical messages.

In one of those fine examples were the FIPRESCI award winner, the Iranian film What’s the Time in Your World by Safi Yazdanian. Yazdanian is a former film critic who did several documentaries and shorts during his career before he finally made his feature debut. Yazdanian had luck with his lead cast Leila Hatami and Ali Mosaffa and their experience is a real treasure in this actor-based film which under the surface is about the contemporary Iranian society.

The other Iranian picture offered a more harsh and realistic presentation on the recent social issues. 13 by Hooman Seyedi is about a 13-year-old-boy who’s just wandering the streets with other street kids and looks to be one of the persons of the lost youth generation. 13 is sometimes surprisingly direct when discussing the conflicts of the Iranian society today and tells stories which are unknown from the globalized media noise. 13 is one of the films in the New Currents which dealt with growing up and the troubles of the youth. The Chinese Nazha is about two girl’s conflict with their parents in a kind of coming of age story. The generational conflict is also there in Don’t Say That Word: In Sato Takuma’s Japanese film the tensions are between a high school football manager and a young player. Similar issues are in Sex(appeal) where a musical school freshman is raped by her professor and the student files a suit against him with the help of another professor.

In Sex(appeal) we also learn about family ties, as in the Iraqi entry The Face of an Ash, a surprisingly fresh black comedy in which an uncle is uncertain whether the human remains returned after the war actually belong to his nephew. In the Korean feature debut End of Winter a family is forced to live again together for some time after a snowfall disrupts the transportation system. In the Philippines’ Mariquina a daughter comes to understand and forgive her father after his death.

There’s an attempt to mix the family issues with genres such as in Sunrise. The Indian film is about a police officer who tries to find his missing daughter. Director Partho Sen-guppa creates a noir world for the story where there’s never ending rain and lots of symbolism.

In all, the concept worked and the themes are well balanced in the New Currents section. We experienced a good average quality in the competition section with some exceptional examples. It looks as if there are very common thoughts in the national film industries’ about family affairs, and growing up. And the results are, let’s say, healthy and promising.

Edited by Steven Yates