This year’s Asian Programming for the Busan International Film Festival focuses on discovering talented new
independent filmmakers, new aspects and trends in Asian Cinema as well as introduces the latest films with
industrial value from well-known directors. This year’s world of film includes many outstanding works by
young Asian directors in a wide range of genres. Rising directors have shown notable achievements this year
as seen by 11 Asian films among 14 films (3 Korean films) presented in the New Currents Section. A Window on
Asian Cinema section includes many high-quality films by enthusiastic young directors. Documentary debut films
in the Wide Angle are also worthy of being called the ‘discovery of the year.’ Many of the latest films by the
world’s greatest Asian masters will have their world premieres in Busan this year. By regional grouping, the
Great China Region, India and Iran prove strong; in addition, Kazakhstan is constantly increasing its film
industry with its own dynamics. Well-made films from Nepal, Bhutan, Laos, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia,
where the size of the film industries remain relatively small, also have presented excellent films that testify
to the abundance and diversity of Asian films.
Chinese and Japanese Cinema
Chinese films that look at the society from a fresh perspective have shown notable achievements.
Directorial debut films from mainland China, a transcending film A Road to Spring - a collapsing
city with rising unemployment, Dwelling In The Fuchun Mountains – a meaning of a contemporary family,
and Bloody Daisy - a unique story of detectives chasing after a serial killer for 19 years, are
strikingly remarkable for its level of completion. Heavy Craving, from the unique perspective of the
female director, is a Taiwanese cinema production that describes a story of a woman who tries to free
herself from needing acceptance from others. Detention, a film adaptation of the famous horror video
game, will also make it to the screen. No.7 Cherry Lane, an animation feature by Hong Kong director
Yon Fan and a new drama Balloon directed by Tibetan filmmaker Pema Tseden will also be presented.
The latest films by these two Asian auteurs have been selected in the competition programs of the
Venice Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival.
Japanese films offer a mainstream commercial genre punctuated by samurai comedies,
samurai action flicks and star-studded romantic films that follow the big trends in theaters
whereas films addressing social and political issue as seen in the Journalist were rather
absent this year. Yet there are plenty of titles that would grace the selections of this year's
edition: To the Ends of the Earth by Kurosawa Kiyoshi provides insight into the value of human
communication, The Promised Land by Zeze Takahisa depicts an agricultural society of Japan and its
closed-minded mentality, They Say Nothing Stays the Same by Odagiri Joe is about important values
that today's society has lost and Talking the Pictures by Suo Masayuki is a director's love letter
to the silent pictures and silent-era films. Last but not least, Kore-eda Hirokazu’s The Truth,
opening film at the Venice International Film Festival 2019, despite being a French production,
is selected among 11 Japanese films.
Southwest Asian Cinema
For Southwest Asia, new directors, especially female filmmakers have made their mark this year.
There are many films with cinematic excellence paying attention to social issues: full-length feature animation Bombay
Rose was officially invited to the Venice International Film Festival along with sensitive works, Market and The Wayfarers
that address the problem of poverty and a neglected under-privileged class in the most loving and affectionate manner; Dolly
Kitty and Those Twinkling Stars and Roam Rome Mein offer sophisticated approaches to gender issues; Bitter Chestnut is a journey
of a young man working in a cafe in a remote Himalayan village searching for his identity. 99 Songs, Indian musical romance film,
which Oscar-winning world-renowned A. R. Rahman composed the original score and songs, will meet the approval audiences in the Open
Cinema section. Pakistani film, Circus of Life is a story of an old man struggling for his secret pleasure against a very strict
religious society; The Perfect Candidate is about a determined young Saudi woman’s surprise run for office in local city elections,
and self-reflexivity in filmmaking appears in a central theme of the Iranian Film, Cinema Donkey.
Southeast Asian and Central Asian Cinema
Many Southeast Asian films that deliver powerful messages through unique cinematic techniques are selected for the 24th edition of the Busan International Film Festival. World-acclaimed Filipino master Lav Diaz will return to the Busan International Film Festival with The Halt along with ambitious Indonesian rookie Yosep Anggi Noen who will present his feature The Science of Fictions and Arden Rod Condez of the Philippines whose film John Denver Trending competes for the New Currents section.
Audience-friendly films have made a big lead in the Mekong Region, one of the fastest-growing film markets in the world. The Cave is based on a true story of Thai boy soccer team trapped in a cave while rescue units scramble to save them. Where We Belong is a film about a girl, starring Thai idol group – BNK48, who explores the friendship and uncertainties felt by teenagers. Vietnamese feel-good film, Dear Devil Brother is a remake of a Korean original, My Annoying Brother directed by Soo Kyung Kwon.
Kazakh films in Central Asia, praised for their cinematic quality, are also invited to the Busan International Film Festival this year. The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time, selected to open the festival, is undoubtedly an excellent work of art. There are more choices worth watching: A Dark-Dark Man, a story of a cop investigating a mysterious death of a boy hidden behind the truth of authority; Mariam, riddled with surprising twists from a genuine directing technique.
This year’s Asian documentaries are full of colorful works that tell the tragic history of Asian countries that reveal the shadows
of contemporary society through unique and unconventional styles. For the competition section, there are The Taste of Secrets, a
journey of healing for the director’s mother, survivor of the Cambodian genocide who always refuses to speak about her past; Noodle Kid,
a story about a 14-year-old boy becoming an apprentice at a noodle diner with the hopes to honor a heavy family responsibility;
Come and See, a documentary hunting down the evidence of corruption in a Thai Buddhist temple. Among others, The Unseen, an animated
documentary giving a voice to homeless women at the bottom of the Iranian society through the mouths of animated figures made of
cardboard boxes will be one of the most remarkable works. A lineup for the Showcase section adequately features a wide range of
intriguing films, all worthy of the audience’s attention. Films that have received positive reactions from western film festivals will
be screened: Vulnerable Histories (A Road Movie) is an experimental activist documentary that gives a voice to a Japan-born
third-generation Korean where racist sentiment and discrimination grow rife, triggered by the increasing presence of hate speech in the
world. Tiny Souls records the story of a miserable but heartwarming survival of Syrian children growing up in a Jordanian Refugee Camp
for 4 years. M for Malaysia documents the campaign of the present Malaysian Prime Minister through the camera of his granddaughter who
gives an intimate but harsh look at her grandfather. This year, Asian Short Film section has slightly reduced the number of selections
to give greater depth and focus to the section. Fifteen films conveying social messages that people can easily relate to will be presented to audiences.
This year’s Korean Cinema Today – Panorama section selects 16 films. As many as 10 are world premieres, and this overall high ratio marks a
distinct characteristic of the Panorama section. Korean Programming trends will be classified into 3 different statuses. First, renowned and
popular release features, such as Extreme Job, Birthday, Another Child, Hotel by the River, and Tune in for Love, and EXIT are in the Panorama section.
Second, the latest work of older generation directors who have always been praised for potential and its quality. World's first full screen X version
of Princess Aya directed by Lee Seong-gang, master of Korean Animation, Not in This World by Park Jungbum sponsored by Production Support Fund 2017
of the Asian Cinema Fund, Light for the Youth by Shin Suwon, Vertigo by Jeon Gye-soo, Our Village by Ko Bongsoo and Ko Minsoo, and Family Affair by
Lee Dong-eun are included. In addition, new emerging directors will be on the lead of commercial films in reflection of Gang, Baseball Girl, Paper
Flower, and I Am Home, which leaves audiences a common sense message that they have and know the power of public affinity that can be approached
and drawn closer to. Three of the New Currents section feature an advance preview of Korean rookie directors who show off their passion and enthusiasm
in their own personal style of expression. They are Lucky Monster, The Education and An Old Lady. Lucky Monster approaches moviegoers with the eccentric
imagination of one man’s poverty and delusion. However, The Education, draws on the sophistication and sensitiveness of a young volunteer’s odd life
experience while she helps disabled people. The story of an old female victim of disgraceful sexual assault is very well reinterpreted as a persistent
yet contemplative drama in An Old Lady. The Korean Cinema Today – Vision section selects 10 films that best deliver an independent concept and vision;
Kyungmi’s World, RUBY, LUCKY CHAN-SIL, The Pregnant Tree and the Goblin, Moving On, The Hill of Wind, HEART, We Gon’ Be Alright, Eunmi, and Way Back
Home. 7 films among them are directed and coproduced by female filmmakers. This shows the advancing developments in a female filmmakers’ movement and
pinpoints their originality. Parasite by Bong Joon Ho has been included in this year's new Icons section as the sole Korean selection. ParasiteJazzy Misfits by Nam Yeonwoo, is
included in the list. Moonlit Winter, a film production that has developed and evolved from an independent project supported by the Asian Cinema Fund
(ACF), will be the finale of this year’s Busan International Film Festival.
The Wide Angle section introduces 12 Korean documentaries this year. Two typical representatives of a Busan documentary and three films by female director are a response to the woman with megaphone on lead, will compete head-to-head in the competition section. Director Oh Minwook’s
Letters to Buriram,searches for the reality of the East Asian War through the endless journey from Taiwan to Korea, and Underground directed by Kim Jeong-keun, inspects unseen labor from the persistent perception of underground workers, will represent the rediscovery of ‘Busanese’ documentary. Simultaneously, three of the other female directors provide a warmer tone and manner with a raw convention that provides a unique comparison to the two previous tough films.
Yellow Ribbon, directed by Ju Hyunsook is an extraordinary story of ordinary people living in the memories of the Sewol Ferry disaster; Flag, Blue Sky, Party
by Jang Yun-mi is a tenacious quarrel and intimate relationship of female laborers of a Metal Union shown through a cozy and comfortable angle. Director Han Taeee pinpoints the way a director-mother-and-daughter seek for independence and stand alone in Welcome to X-world that displays an enduring potential that female documentary filmmakers finally reveal to the world.
Seven other documentaries on politics or private issues will also be presented in the Showcase section. This is not a Documentary 2,revolves around the election defeat of the defeated progressive party and the the President’s 7 Hours deals with Choi Soon-sil Gate and candle politics that covers contemporary Korean politics with wit and charm. I AM A PILOT and Musoon, Across the Universe depict how the 21st century rising generation endures their living with different challenges against the state of torpor. The Korean Documentary section of the 24th edition negotiates dark social-politic issues that are relieved by moments of humor and wit. Very private subjects are easily brought into a comprehensible social discussion that are found in this year’s programming trends.
A young candidate, a restaurant server, a decayed rapper, a broken couple, a Korean-Chinese, a temporary film staff, and more. The 12 Korean Short Documentaries speak for the young Korean youth throughout a complicated society in diverse genres. In addition, two stop-motion animation films, Snail Man Jesa are remarkable for their magnificently done technical completion and distinctive material.
British and North American Cinema
This year’s British and American productions include a wide variety of genres and storylines: Sorry We Missed You by world-class auteur, Ken Loach, MATTHIAS AND MAXIME by the widely talented Xavier Dolan, Netflix's ambitious films, The Two Popes and The King along with Sundance’s much-talked-about film One Child Nation, renowned for its genuinely shocking tales. This year, Canadian films prove to be strong. The seven selected films include Guest of Honour by Canada's most acclaimed and influential filmmakers Atom Egoyan and The Song of Names by François Girard. The Canadian industry, which produces numerous and significant independent titles every year, will once again prove to be strong in filmmaking. A considerable number of new female directors have also made huge strides this year: The Flash Forward Audience Award nominated film Fabulous, Korean-born Australian filmmaker Moon Un Joo’s feature I Am Woman and Greener Grass, a surprise sensation at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The high quality films from Oceanian region will also be presented this year, including Hearts and Bones and Measure for Measure starring Australian actor Hugo Weaving as well as Savage by the New Zealand rising film director San Kelly.
Chronology, the first Turkish film to be nominated for the Flash Forward Audience Award, and A Trilogy of Love: Reborn, A Trilogy of Love: Chained, A Trilogy of Love: Stripped directed by Israel’s rising director Yaron Shani will premier for the first time at the Busan International Film Festival.
Southern and Western European Cinema
Busan will present outstanding works by big name auteurs and young talents. The Traitor directed by Marco Bellocchio is based on Sicilian mafia Tommaso Buscetta. It has a long court scene but strongly holds the attention of audiences. Film master Costa Gavras, aged 87, who has pioneered the ‘Political Thriller’ genre, delivers a sharp but humorous Ancient Greek tragedy set in modern times. Gloria Mundi by Robert Guédiguian is a masterpiece filled with warmth and love toward humans and conveys the message of ‘The glory of the world does not pass away but continues.’ It Must Be Heaven by Elia Suleiman is a political black comedy satire. Vitalina Varela by director Pedro Costa, winner of the Gold Leopard for Best Film at the Locarno Festival will also be screened.
A considerable number of works by new directors deserve the spotlight. Jérémy Clapin’s philosophical animated film I Lost My Body is a directorial debut feature that weaves surrealism with a poetic dimension. Sole, directed by Carlo Sironi, is a skillful production by a young director who addresses social issues successfully using a right minimalist approach. Paradise directed by Davide Del Degan is a great piece of work powered by an excellent screenplay and a stellar performance. Proper attention should be given to Basil Da Cunha’s O Fim do Mundo and Marc Vigil’s The Swamp’s Silence for the director’s spirit as well as the comic book author Igor Tuveri’s first feature 5 Is the Perfect Number that shows his skillful directing. Above all, Pietro Marcello’s Martin Eden, undoubtedly one of the best pictures of 2019 and Ladj Ly’s first feature film, Les Misérables, film that took the center stage along with Parasite at the Cannes this year will be screened in the Open Cinema section.
In addition, Synonyms by Nadav Lapid, Liberté by Albert Serra, I Was at Home, But by Angela Schanelec, a satirical thriller Deerskin by Quentin Dupieux, Fire Will Come by Oliver Laxe, White on White by Théo Court, Joan of Arc by Bruno Dumont, Zombi Child by Bertrand Bonello and Wasp Network by Olivier Assayas are remarkable films that deserve special attention.
Northern and Eastern European Cinema
Despite its small population, Iceland is a notable film powerhouse. Two Icelandic films will be presented; A White, White Day which won the Louis Roederer Foundation Rising Star Award at the Cannes Critics’ Week and Agnes Joy. Norwegian films are also on the rise; Beware of Children, which was invited to the Venice Days, and documentary film, The Men’s Room. Denmark, a traditional film power in the Northern Europe, also screens two films; Psychosia which is marked with its stunning images and documentary film, The Cave, which tells a story about Syrian Civil War. Dog Don’t Wear Pants, a Finnish film with great attention at the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight and Latvian film, Oleg, are also must-watch films. Two Polish films have been selected among the Eastern European films. They are Mr. Jones by Agnieszka Holland which had screened in the competition section at the Berlin International Film Festival and Corpus Christi by Jan Komasa. Various films, such as the Kinotavr Open Russian Film Festival’s Award-winning Great Poetry, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival’s Best Actor Award-winning Let There Be Light, Locarno Film Festival’s Special Jury Prize-winning Ivana the Terrible, and the opening film for the Sarajevo Film Festival The Son, will be shown.
Central and South American Cinema
While Latin American Films are on the rise in the international film scene, brand-new films as Devil Between the Legs (Mexico) by Arturo Ripstein who already became a virtuoso and Ema (Chile) by Pablo Larraín who dominates Hollywood visit Busan this year. On top of that, this year’s Sundance Film Festival Best Director Award-winning The Sharks (Uruguay) and Cannes Film Festival Caméra d’Or-winning Our Mothers (Guatemala) demonstrate nonmainstream filmmaking countries have continuously produced notable newcomers.
Besides, three young directors will compete for the Flash Forward section, which introduces new narrative features of non-Asian filmmakers. Los Lobos (Mexico) depicts the children dreaming of Disneyland while waiting for their mother returns from work. Son of Ox (Brazil) presents a teenager boy comes on the stage to overcome loneliness and fear whereas Valley of Souls (Colombia) portrays an old fisherman ascends against the stream to retrieve and provide a proper burial for his slaughtered sons preventing their tormented souls from being stuck in this world.