|Lee Yong-kwan, director of the Busan International Film Festival, speaks during a press conference promoting the upcoming edition of BIFF on Tuesday. (Yonhap News)|
A Bhutanese film directed by a Buddhist monk has been selected as the opener of the upcoming 18th Busan International Film Festival.
It is the first time for a Bhutanese movie to be screened as an opening film at an international film festival, according to the organizers.
Directed by Khyentse Norbu, the film features Bharata Natyam, a classical Indian dance. Norbu is unable to attend the film festival, as he is currently occupied with his religious training.
A total of 301 films, including 95 world premieres, from 70 countries will be screened during the upcoming edition of BIFF.
“We are introducing a lot of interesting works created by emerging directors in Asia,” said Lee Yong-kwan, the director of the festival.
This year’s closing film is Korean director Kim Dong-hyun’s indie movie “The Dinner,” a drama about a family facing a series of financial and other misfortunes.
Fourteen films have been included in the lineup of the Korean Cinema Today section, including Hong Sang-soo’s two award-winning films ― “Our Sunhi” and “Nobody’s Daughter Haewon” ― and Kim Ki-duk’s controversial incest tale “Moebius.”
“Director Kim wants to screen the edited version of the movie,” said Nam Dong-chul, a BIFF programmer. “We would like to screen the original, and we could speak to him again about it, but so far, director Kim has been very persistent that he only wants the edited version to be featured during the upcoming edition.”
Kim cut about three minutes of incest scenes from the original to receive an R-rating from the state rating agency.
The section also includes “Fasten Your Seatbelt,” the feature-film directing debut by popular actor Ha Jung-woo. Based on Ha’s friend and actor Ryu Seung-bum’s real-life experience, the comedy film tells the story of a Korean hallyu star who gets on a plane to Seoul from Tokyo and encounters severe turbulence during the flight due to a typhoon.
Six films have been included in this year’s Gala Presentation, a section that presents the latest works by master filmmakers as well as the most anticipated films at BIFF.
The featured films are: Bong Joon-ho’s global project “Snowpiercer,” Kim Jee-woon’s “The X,” Indian filmmaker Mani Ratnam’s “Kadal,” and Kazakhstani director Zhanna Issabayeva’s “Nagima,” which BIFF executive programmer Kim Ji-seok calls “the most significant Asian film of the year.” The film deals with young women who grew up in an orphanage and their journey after moving out of the institution.
“In the past, most of the films included in our Gala Presentations section were works of very well-known filmmakers,” said programmer Kim. “Issabayeva isn’t well known in Korea, and ‘Nagima’ is her third film, but I thought it really is the most significant Asian film that came out this year.”
The upcoming film festival will also be the only chance for many who live in English-speaking countries to see the original version of Bong’s “Snowpiercer,” as the film is being re-edited for its North American release, said programmer Nam.
Other notable films include Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s “Ongoing Smile,” a documentary featuring the daily life of the founder and honorary BIFF director Kim Dong-ho. The film will be screened along with “Jury,” Kim’s debut short film which was released last year. Executive programmer Kim said the upcoming film festival unusually features three zombie movies including George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead 3-D” and Manuel Carballo’s “The Returned,” and three one-take films including Iranian film “Fish & Cat” and Kazakhstani movie “The Story of an Old Woman.”
A special retrospective of Korean veteran filmmaker Im Kwon-taek will feature a total of nine of his works, including “Seopyeonje” (1993), “Ticket” (1986), “Seize the Precious Sword” (1972) and “Chunhyang” (2000).
A number of famed cineastes, including Jeong Seong-il, Lee Chang-dong, Hong Sang-soo, Bong Joon-ho and Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke will talk about Im’s films after the screenings of his films.