Busan Film Fest Reveals Meaty Lineup

The 17th Busan International Film Festival, which will unfold over October 4-13, has announced its full selection and, boy, is it packed to the gills. Many new films from stars of world cinema will be screened and a number of high-profile Asian films will bow at the event. Throw in a bevy of retrospectives and special screenings and what you end up with is a 300+ film program of pure cinematic delight.

A new Hong Kong action film called Cold War, which is the debut of industry veterans Sunny Luk and Leung Long Man, will serve as the opening film while Mostafa Farwar Farooki's Television, which promises to announce the arrival of Bangladeshi cinema, will close out the week.

As always, among the most exciting things on offer at Busan are the Korean premieres. For many years BIFF has been the premiere showcase for new Korean films. This year's crop is particularly exciting. There will be gala presentations for the new Jeon Soo-il (Pink, 2011) film El Condor Pasa, National Security, Chun Ji-young's follow-up to Unbowed (2011) and a new effort from Park Chul-soo (301,302; 1995) called B.E.D.

In the 'Korean Cinema Today' section, which features no less than 27 films, there is a trove of notable films which include: last week's Venice Golden Lion-winner, Kim Ki-duk's Pieta; E.J-young's (Untold Scandal, 2003) Behind the Camera; Jeon Kyu-hwan's The Weight (which also nabbed an award at Venice); Kwak Kyung-taek's (Friend, 2001) The Ugly Duckling; O Muel's Jiseul, Shin Su-won's (whose short The Circle Line picked up an award at Cannes this year) Pluto; and Oldboy (2003) actor Yu Ji-tae's debut feature Mai Ratima. Also premiering will The Perfect Number, Bang Eun-jin's (Princess Aurora, 2005) adaptation of Japanese crime writer Keigo Higashino's masterful 'The Devotion of Suspect X' starring Ryoo Seung-beom, a project I've been particularly excited about for some time.

Looking at the 'A Window on Asian Cinema' section, Sono Shion's (Love Exposure, 2008),  new work The Land of Hope will be screened, along with the Kurosawa Kiyoshi (Tokyo Sonata, 2008) TV Mini-series Penance, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's (Uncle Bonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, 2010) latest Mekong Hotel and Abbas Kiorastami's (Taste of Cherry, 1997) Japan-set Like Someone in Love.

The 'World Cinema' section, with a mouth-watering 74 titles, is no slouch either. Works that will screen include: Ben Affleck's Argo; famed German cineaste Volker Schlondorff's (The Tin Drum, 1979) first film in years Calm at Sea; classic Italian helmer Mario Bellochio's (Fists in the Pocket, 1965) Dormant Beauty; and Olivier Assayas' (Carlos, 2010) Something in the Air. Not to mention more Cannes titles such as Brandon Cronenberg's Antiviral, Christian Mungiu's latest Beyond the Hills, Matteo Garrone's Reality, Ken Loach's The Angel's Share, Thomas Vinterburg's The Hunt and Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or effort Love.

There are also numerous exciting retrospectives this year: 'Afghanistan National Film Archive: The Rise from the Ashes'; 'Poland in Close-up: The Great Polish Masters'; 'The Eternal Travelers for Freedom: Sergei Parajanov and Mikhail Vartanov' and a look at the classic Korean film star Shin Young-kyun, 'The Masculine Icon of Korean Cinema.'

This is just a brief look at a program which also features Open Cinema screenings of Choi Dong-hoon's The Thieves and Jo Sung-hee's Werewolf Boy. Over the coming weeks I will break down the full program ahead of October 4's opening ceremony. Can't wait to get started!
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