BIFF to showcase 192 films, but possibility of fest cancellation not ruled out

By Choi Ji-won
  • Published : Sept 14, 2020 - 19:10
  • Updated : Sept 14, 2020 - 22:08

Lee Yong-kwan, the chairman of the Busan International Film Festival`s organizing committee, speaks during a press conference on the closure of the festival in October last year. (Yonhap)
The 25th Busan International Film Festival is ready to showcase 192 titles from 68 countries, including 23 cinematic works from the 73rd Cannes Film Festival’s official selection.

The details of this year‘s festival slated for Oct. 21-30 in Busan were announced Monday during an online press conference held by the BIFF organizing committee. On Friday, the committee announced it would proceed with an onsite festival, but that it would be pushed back two weeks and be significantly downsized as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“We usually screen some 300 films every year. But this year, only 192 films have been selected for screening, and although this is a drop compared to last year’s, this is still a large number given the current situation,” festival programmer Nam Dong-chul said.

The festival will screen 23 films from the 68 selected for this year’s Cannes festival, which only announced the invited lineup without holding the festival itself. Among the 23 films are director Yeon Sang-ho’s zombie thriller “Peninsula,” a restored version of Wong Kar-wai’s 2000 film “In the Mood for Love” and director Francis Lee’s “Ammonite,” starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan.

The festival will open with “Septet: The Story of Hong Kong,” an omnibus by seven Hong Kong directors, including Sammon Hung, Johnnie To and Ann Hui. Closing the festival is Japanese animation “Josee, the Tiger and the Fish” from director Kotaro Tamura. There will be no opening or closing ceremonies.

While festival organizers are still considering the cancellation of the entire festival if the current COVID-19 situation continues until after the Chuseok holiday that runs Sept. 30-Oct. 4, the festival’s chairman Lee Yong-kwan said the final form of the festival will be confirmed around Oct. 15. He added that as of now, he intends to refrain from moving the entire festival online. Most of the festival’s major programs, except for official screenings that will be shown at five screens at the Busan Cinema Center, have been moved online.

“We hold a similar stance as that of the Cannes Film Festival, that we must protect the fundamental (values), such as the copyrights (of films) and the opinions of the filmmakers. If the situation grows worse, the festival will have to move to next year,” Lee said.

By Choi Ji-won (jwc@heraldcorp.com)