Thursday, June 20, 2024

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    Korean cinema wave comes full circle at Busan Film Festival

    The six-film program of Korean diaspora cinema is a highlight of BIFF this year, and it will see Korean American filmmakers, including Oscar nominees Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) and Justin Chon (Jamojaya), in town with their movies. Teo Yoo, star of the first Oscar favorite Past Lives, will also be in attendance, alongside Steven Yeun (Beef, Burning) and veteran American actor John Cho. Under the SAG strike conditions, Yeun will be able to discuss only her stellar performance in Lee Chang-dong’s searing 2018 drama Burning, given that it was an all-Korean production, while Yoo will have free rein white to represent Past Lives, which received an exemption from SAGMENT. Historic Minari star Yuh-Jung Youn – the first Korean to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress – was also invited to the festival’s Actor’s House post-screening panel discussions, open to the public, to discuss his experiences at home and abroad.

    There is a feeling that the Korean wave is coming full circle, from the global success of projects produced in the country to those made primarily in the United States and which, hopefully – according to the festival organizers – will leave their mark on the local public and industry. at home in Seoul.

    “When Sundance selected Justin Chon’s Gook in 2017 and Andrew Ahn’s Spa Night in 2016, we were very intrigued by Korean American filmmakers,” says BIFF programmer Pak Dosin. “Even though their films were well received by critics around the world, Korean American filmmakers were not very (well known). We would like to offer the Korean public the opportunity to meet them here in Busan, so that they can get the recognition they deserve from the people of their home country. »

    The move is timely, given the festival’s determination to look to the future after recent political and behind-the-scenes scandals shifted the focus to the direction of the festival rather than the event itself. This year, investigations are underway into sexual harassment involving former festival director Huh Moonyoung and a revolving door in the upper management ranks. In recent weeks, BIFF has also joined 50 local Korean festivals in calling for more government help after steep funding cuts.

    But when the BIFF raises the curtain on October 4, we hope that all eyes will be on the cinema – 209 films are making it through the main programs – and on the stars, including Hong Kong hero Chow Yun-fat (in town to pick up the Asian price). Filmmaker of the Year), alongside the Frenchman Luc Besson, the Chinese Fan Bingbing and the Japanese duo Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Hirokazu Kore-eda, world favorites of arthouses. Korean cinema icon Song Kang-ho (Parasite) has agreed to host activities throughout the 10-day event, aiming to help BIFF regain its momentum.

    “We have been going through a difficult time,” says Nam Dong-chul, acting director of the festival. “We’re not ready to get our hopes up yet, but the hard work of our members has made this year’s festival better than ever.”

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