Internal strifes took a backseat for at least one day as the Busan International Film Festival unveiled another packed lineup for its 22nd edition (October 12th-21st) at press conferences held in Busan and Seoul on Monday.
This year’s opening film is mystery drama Glass Garden (유리정원), director Shin Su-won’s follow-up to her Cannes Un Certain Regard title Madonna (마돈나). The film stars Moon Geun-young as a researcher whose life becomes the subject of a book by a novelist who’s been accused of plagiarism.
This is the second consecutive year that BIFF is opening with a local title. Last year, the festival opened with Zhang Lu’s A Quiet Dream (춘몽).
The closing film is Love Education (相愛相親), the latest film by actor-director Sylvia Chang. Her first Taiwan-Mainland China co-production, the family drama stars Chang, director Tian Zhuangzhuang and Lang Yueting. The film opens in China on October 27th and in Taiwan on November 17th.
Not only is Glass Garden the first BIFF opening film by a female director, this is also the first time that BIFF is opening and closing with films by female directors. Both films are world premieres.
This year’s program features a total of 298 films from 75 countries and regions, just slightly down from last year’s 299 films. 100 of the films – 76 of them feature films – are world premieres.
One of those world premiere is Butterfly Sleep (나비잠), one of this year’s four gala presentations. The latest film by Take Care of My Cat director Jeong Jae-eun, the Japan-South Korea co-production stars Miho Nakayama as a college lecturer and novelist who falls in love with a Korean man.
The international premiere of Isao Yukisada’s Narratage (ナラタージュ), Hirokazu Kore-eda’s The Third Murder (三度目の殺人) and Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! round out the gala presentations. Aronofsky is expected to visit the festival to present the film.
As previously announced, the New Currents competition features ten films, including Taiwan’s The Last Verse (最後的詩句), South Korea’s How to Breathe Underwater (물속에서 숨 쉬는 법), Cheung King-wai’s Somewhere Beyond the Mist (藍天白雲) and India-South Korea co-production Ashwatthama. All ten films are world premieres.
The festival has also established a new competition for the Kim Ji-seok Award, named after the revered chief programmer who passed away in May during his annual trip to the Cannes Film Festival. Ten of the films in the 55-film Window on Asian Cinema section are eligible for the award. There will also be a memorial service to honor Kim during the festival.
In addition to notable local films from the past year, the Korean Cinema Today section also includes the world premieres of local indies such as Mothers (당신의 부탁), Shin Yeon-shick’s Romans 8:37 (로마서 8:37), Kim Sun-ho’s Notebook From My Mother (엄마의 공책), O Muel’s Mermaid (인어전설), as well as the new director’s cut of Ryu Seung-wan’s Battleship Island (군함도: 감독판).
As announced late last week, the late Seijun Suzuki is this year’s Asian Filmmaker of the year, with seven of his films scheduled to be screened. There is also a retrospective of 1960s South Korean films and one dedicated to indie films from Russia’s Sakha region.
BIFF has undergone a tumultuous year. While debates over the festival’s independence from political interference continues, it suffered a major setback with Kim’s passing. Last month, festival chairman Kim Dong-ho and festival director Kang Soo-yeon announced their resignation after the staff circulated a memo criticizing the two for not pushing the city government to apologize for political interference over the screening of a controversial documentary three years ago that led to the ousting of former festival director Lee Yong-kwan. Kim and Kang will depart after the end of this year’s edition.