Letters From BIFF Programmers
A Guide for 2020 Asian Film Audiences
The Asian regions I am in charge of this year are the Northeast Asian (excluding Korea), Central Asian, and South Asian countries. Both newcomers and acclaimed filmmakers have been busy making films in these Asian countries despite the film industry as a whole slowing down due to the impact of COVID-19. Thankfully, we have been able to show a considerable number of major films at Busan.
- First, in the Northeast Asian region, “Return of the Master” is a noticeable theme. Including the opening film Septet: The Story of Hong Kong made by seven legendary filmmakers, there are four Asian films screened in the Gala Presentation section: Wife of a Spy by Kurosawa Kiyoshi, who received the Silver Lion award for best director at the Venice International Film Festival; True Mothers by Kawase Naomi, a Cannes 2020 selection; and In the Mood for Love by Wong Kar Wai, remastered in celebration of its 20th anniversary.
- It fills me with emotion that In the Mood for Love is coming back to Busan, as it was the Closing Film of the 5th Busan International Film Festival. Finally, after numerous twists and turns, Ann Hui’s Love After Love was at last confirmed as the Asian Premier. Tsai Ming Liang’s Days and Aoyama Shinji’s Living in the Sky are respectively coming to the Icons and A Window on Asian Cinema sections.
In China, up-and-coming female directors have been making notable feats. Summer Blur by Han Shuai in the New Currents Section and MAMA by Li Dongmei showcased in the Venice Days narrate the cruel weight of life too heavy for teenage girls in a stoic manner.
- There have unfortunately been few selections entered from the Central Asia region. However, films that are gathering much anticipation include Yellow Cat by Busan regular Adilkhan Yerzhanov, a selection in the Venice International Film Festival Competition section; Three by Pak Ruslan, a 4th generation Uzbek Koryo-saram who gained attention for his debut film Hanaan (2011); and 18 Kilohertz by Farkhat Sharipov, a seasoned director who is well known for The Secret of a Leader.
- Finally, there are selections from Asian film powerhouse India and other South Asian countries. Last year there were multitudes of films by female Indian directors; however, this year many male Indian directors made films that explore gender issues. BITTERSWEET, WHERE IS PINKI, Captive, and A’hr discuss women’s rights and labor issues, especially pertinent in Asian countries, through acutely socially conscious and anchored storytelling or novel formal experimentations. Butterfly on the Windowpane by Sujit Bidari, an emerging Nepalese director, is also a masterwork that focuses on a talented and ambitious young girl’s growth and failures.
Around this time last year, I would be staying up all night preparing for the festival; however, this year has made me miss the chaos of those ordinary times. I eagerly await the day I will be able to meet you in theaters. Thank you.
By Asian Cinema Programmer
PARK Sun Young