The 27th edition of Busan International Film Festival will open with Scent of Wind by the Iranian director Hadi Mohaghegh and close with A Man by Japan’s Kei Ishikawa.
Launched in 1996, Busan has long been considered Asia’s premiere film festival, famous both for launching the careers of exciting new Korean and Asian auteurs, as well as its festive beachfront vibe, with tented restaurants serving soju and Korean seafood specialities into the wee hours.
This year, Busan festival director Heo Moon-young has promised an edition that represents “a full recovery” from the pandemic, restoring various programs and forums that were interrupted over the past two years due to the Seoul government’s social distancing measures. In 2022, the festival will screen 354 films from 71 countries, with various satellite events happening across town.
Scent of Wind is the fourth film by Mohaghegh, whose feature film Immortal was invited to Busan’s New Currents program in 2015.
“It’s a film that matches the creative direction of Busan,” explained Heo. “We often think about the aesthetics of Asian cinema and come up with names like Abbas Kiarostami and Hou Hsiao Hsien. I think Mohaghegh’s film captures how the aesthetics of Asian cinema is expressed in the 21th century — with the depth of his camerawork. It conveys the values we love about Asian film. They depict the lives of the unfortunate and do so without exploiting or exaggerating them, but rather convey a sense of comfort and solidarity.”
Ishikawa’s A Man is a mystery drama starring Japanese star Satoshi Tsumabuki. The film, which recently premiered to warm reviews in Venice, delves into a story of a Korean-Japanese attorney who faces questions about his identity while investigating a mysterious case about a client’s deceased husband.
This year’s Busan lineup features multiple films by film masters. Alain Guiraudie’s Nobody’s Hero and Scarlet by Pietro Marcello, both opening films for this year’s Berlin and Cannes Film Festival, respectively, will be screened in the Gala Presentation section, which shows local premiers by high-profile international directors.
New Currents, the festival’s main competition section, will unveil a selection of 10 films with a jury led by a film critic Serge Toubiana. Icons, a program dedicated to new films by high-profile directors from around the globe, including U.S. and Europe, will screen films by many familiar names, including French director Claire Denis’ latest melodrama Both Sides of Blade, American director Noah Baumbach’s black comedy White Noise and Broker by Japan’s Kore-eda Hirokazu, a drama about an unconventional family starring Korean actor Song Kang-ho, who won the best actor award at this year’s Cannes.
Jiseok, a new competition section named after the festival’s late programmer Kim Jiseok, will feature selected works by emerging Asian filmmakers, including Iran’s Ali Ghavitan (Life & Life), Thailand’s M.L. Bhandevanov Devakula (Six Characters) and India’s Ananth Narayan Mahadevan (The Storyteller).
Separately, A Window on Asian Cinema, which highlights the latest works of Asian directors, features nine world premieres, including Hong Kong Family by Eric Tsang Hing Weng and The Wind Will Say by Wei Renal Yongyao.
This year’s Busan festival also presents a line-up of films that are significant both culturally and politically. Nakdong River (1952), the earliest surviving film in Korea that first portrayed the Korean War, was recently discovered and digitally remastered. It will be screened in Busan for the first time. Blind Willows, Sleeping Woman, a film by Mantas Kvedaravicius, a Lithuanian director who was known for documentary films shot in hostile areas and who was killed by the Russian army during production, has also been invited. A special section titled, Discovering New Japanese Cinema, explores the new potential of contemporary Japanese films once banned in Korea due to historical tensions that originated from Japan’s colonial rule — as it focuses on young Japanese directors who made their feature debut after 2010.
A wave of cross-border projects will be screened by international directors, either starring Korean actors or produced in Korea.
Return to Seoul, directed by a Cambodian-French director Davy Chou, depicts a journey of a 22-year old woman who visits her motherland after being adopted by a French couple. Ajoomma, a story about a middle-aged widow who travels out of the country for the first time to Seoul, is directed by a new Singaporean director, He Shuming. Riceboy by Anthony Shim, a Korean-Canadian actor and director based in Vancouver, delves into an immigrant’s experience as it tells the story of a single mother raising a son in the suburbs of Canada.
The festival also selected Tony Leung, the veteran Hong Kong actor, as the recipient of this year’s Asian Film Person of the Year, which is granted to industry veterans who have made a significant contribution to the Asian film world. To celebrate his achievement, Busan will also host a special screening of Leung’s major films, such In the Mood for Love, Happy Together and 2046, which were all selected by the actor himself.
On the market front, this year’s Asia Film Content Market will be the event’s first face-to-face edition in three years. Market events, parties and ceremonies will be back for normal operation and overseas guests will be invited in person to participate in pitches and meetings.
As a highlight of the market, AFCM will launch an ambitious new program called, Story Market, which has integrated the functions of the previous E-IP Market (Entertainment Intellectual Property Market), inviting content creators of all platforms including books, games and comics. The Asian Cinema Fund, which was suspended for the past two years, is expected to resume and support 13 films with funding programs such as the Script Development Fund, Post-Production Fund and Asian Network of Documentary Fund.
The Asian Project Market, a co-production activity and the market’s key program, which introduces promising feature film projects, will present 29 selections by Asian directors this year.
“Every content starts with a story,” says Oh Seok-geun, the director of AFCM. “For 10 years, through the E-IP market, we have created a platform where content holders participate and exchange a wide range of IP lineups. We will continue to introduce quality Asian content through these strategic collaborations with various film agencies in Asia.”