It was unexpected. The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) opened in South Korea on Wednesday. In the context of the health crisis, having maintained the 25th edition of Asia’s biggest film event is already a victory. Elsewhere in the world, the coronavirus has forced a number of events to migrate online when they weren’t outright canceled, like Cannes. In a spirit of solidarity, the BIFF will also show several dozen films labeled “Cannes 2020Which, while they belonged to the official selection, could not be screened in the spring on the Croisette.
Normally, a cohort of stars, film professionals and fans make the trip to the southern port city of South Korea for the 10-day festival. The 25th anniversary of the festival should have been the occasion to celebrate the triumph at the last Oscars of the film Parasite from South Korean Bong Joon-ho. But the party is spoiled by the health risk. There will be no opening ceremony, no glamorous parade on the red carpet, no parties “after”, Nor external events for the general public.
Cinema is an art that requires large screens
Nam Dong-chul, Director of Programming at BIFF
The programming has been revised downwards, with an 80% reduction in the number of screenings. Approximately 190 films will be shown once, whereas in normal times 300 works are shown several times. The rooms can only accommodate a quarter of the public and the mask will be compulsory.
“We do our best to offer the essentials, while following the security rules against Covid-19BIFF director of programming Nam Dong-chul told AFP. The most important thing for festivals is to show films in theaters, because cinema is an art that requires large screens.“.
The organizers have planned 45 meetings associated with screenings, but only South Korean directors and actors will participate. Seoul imposes a two-week quarantine on most travelers, which complicates any one-off visit. No invitation was therefore sent to foreign personalities. Some, however, will participate by videoconference. A compromise that is not to everyone’s taste.
“Since the start of the epidemic, I have participated in a number of online discussions about films. I can tell it’s horriblePlague director Kim So-young, who has not missed any of the last ten editions of BIFF. “Connecting with viewers is not like it does in a cinema, especially when the lights come back on“, She says, detailing”that special feeling that comes from being in the presence of people who have just seen your film“.
However, the BIFF offers 70 world premieres, and in particular, at the opening, the highly anticipated Septet: The Story of Hong Kong, a sketch film in which Hong Kong-born Johnnie To asked six other directors to reflect on their childhood memories and present a vision of their city, to the once thriving film industry.
Tribute to Hong Kong cinema
Poignant, the anthology pays tribute to the prosperous decades of Hong Kong cinema and comes at the right time, at a time when local freedoms are called into question by the muscular takeover of Beijing. The film was part of the official selection at Cannes.
“Looking back on the past of these filmmakers, we project ourselves on the uncertain future of Hong Kong, explains the Cannes selection committee on its website. It was the year or never to show this sketch film“.
In its rich selection, the BIFF, which will end on October 30, will offer around twenty other works labeled “Cannes 2020That the coronavirus has deprived of Croisette. Will thus be projected Summer 85, by François Ozon, Ibrahim by Samir Guesmi, Red, the film by Farid Bentoumi on workers in factories that pollute or Falling, a family drama that marks the passage to the direction of the American-Danish actor Viggo Mortensen.