The First International Event in Korea to be Held During the Pandemic
The Opening Ceremony of the Busan International Film Festival was the first international event in Korea in which over 1,000 general audiences participated after the outbreak of COVID-19. The Opening Ceremony was strictly limited to participants who have received a negative PCR test results within 72 hours of the event or those administered with the 2nd shot of the COVID-19 vaccine 14 days prior to the event. The event was a success. With the advanced consulting of disease control specialists in three phases, the events operated under a thorough disease prevention system, including vaccination and advanced PCR test, to which all members were subjected. At festival venues including the sites for Opening/Closing Ceremonies, Outdoor Stage Greetings, and Open Talks, the enjoyment of the film-festival-as-is, where the audience and filmmakers directly communicated, prevailed. The balance between disease control and daily life provided an opportunity for giving strength and consolation to the general public. In particular, by creating a hotline with the Busan Civil Disinfection Facilitation Division in advance, preemptive contact tracing measures were able to be quickly completed on the day that a confirmed case occurred during the film festival period, and the film festival could continue safely without any new cases.
The Film Festival Enlivened by the Audience
Although the theaters operated at 50% capacity, the enthusiasm of the audience was more intense than ever. Records showed a seat occupation rate of 80%, with the festival offering a momentum for quenching the thirst for film that had been building up due to COVID-19. The Open Cinema selections, which were screened at the outdoor theater, were sold out for five days out of eight, and more than half of the entire selection was sold out. The Outdoor Stage events were also filled with the audience every day.
New Programs Successfully Settle In
The On Screen section, which screens new OTT drama series at the theater, was newly added this year, and yet managed to receive an enthusiastic response. The three series, Hellbound, My Name, and Forbidden, were all sold out, proving that the On Screen section had settled in successfully. All six sessions of the Actor's House, where actors discuss their films and acting careers, were a success as well. Six talents, Lee Je-hoon, Jeon Jong-seo, Han Yeri, Cho Jinwoong, Byun Yohan, and Uhm Junghwa, received a warm welcome from the audience with their honest and profound stories.
Foreign Guests Visit after Two Years
Last year, the festival could not invite any foreign guest. This year, however, a small but significant number of international guests paid a visit to Busan. A total of 60 international guests, which included directors Hamaguchi Ryusuke and Leos Carax, met the audience through various means including GVs (conversations with the audience), Special Talk, Master Class, Press Conference, and Interview, receiving a warm and intense welcome from the audience.
The Success of Decentralized Programs: BIFF in the Neighborhood, Simultaneous Screenings
BIFF in the Neighborhood, which expanded the Busan International Film Festival that had previously been held around Haeundae and Nampo-dong to other areas, had 35 screenings of 15 films at 14 locations. About 4,035 viewers had positive reviews of the unique experience of watching films at a regional community venue that is not the theater. The film festival provided a long-term vision of the festival visiting the audience through BIFF in the Neighborhood as well. This program gathered the most interest this year. In addition, the simultaneous screenings held in Singapore and Thailand by the Busan International Film Festival were also a huge success. It provided a meaningful experience wherein the audience became one by overcoming spatial limitations in this COVID-19 era.
Expansion of Community BIFF's Reach
The depth and reach of audience participation expanded even more. The repertoire of REQUEST CINEMA, where the audience become programmers, ranged from Asian film franchise including director Park Chan-wook to breakout independent films such as Free Minu. The experiment in new ways of watching films was upgraded through Movie Quiz and Game Theater, in which the audience actively select the story.
Record Number of Business Meetings at Asian Contents & Film Market
At the Asian Contents & Film Market, which was held online and on-site, a global attention on K-Contents and an explosive demand for in-person business could be confirmed. The Asian Project Market and the E-IP Market, which were held on-site for Koreans and online for foreign participants, a number of total meetings of over 1,300, which is the highest in their history, was recorded. In particular, as the interest in original IP rights has grown larger than ever, around 800 meetings - three times last year's - were held, and that number is expected to grow even larger in the future. At the Asia Contents Awards and the Asian Film Awards, which were broadcast live online, excellent series and films from Korea and Asia were highlighted. The online conference, which was broadcast on YouTube, provided a time for checking in with the current status of the K-Contents industry and look to its future.
Successful Festival as an In-person Event, albeit Leaving Some Aspects to be Desired
Officially, there were two technical issues at the screenings and two delays in press conferences, leaving some aspects in the operation of the film festival to be desired. In the future, by increasing the quality of the customer service and strengthening the system for providing a quick response, the film festival will make every effort to repay the expectations and positive feedback from the audience and the participants.