The 16th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) took place from October 6th through October 14th in Busan, South Korea. As the largest film festival in Asia, BIFF screened 307 films from 70 countries, including 86 world premieres. 8,828 accredited guests and 2,440 accredited press attended the festival.
2011 marked a new era for the festival. The English name was changed from Pusan to Busan to bring it in line with standard translation. Taking over from the 15-year veteran Kim Dong-ho, new Festival Director Lee Yong-kwan inaugurated the Busan Cinema Center (BCC), a beautiful $157 million-dollar, 30,000 square-meter complex that serves as the exclusive venue for screenings and events for BIFF during the festival period. Additional screening venues include CGV Centum City, LOTTE Cinema Centum City, Community Media Center Haeundae, and Megabox Haeundae, for a total of 36 screens at 5 theatres. Total attendance number was 196,177 or 83% per screen.
The opening film was ALWAYS (South Korea), a melodramatic love story directed by 2001 BIFF New Currents winner SONG Il-gon.
BIFF presented its Asian Filmmaker of the Year Award to director Tsui Hark (Hong Kong). French actress Isabelle Hubert, French director Luc Besson were among the BIFF Master Class speakers. Special retrospective programs were dedicated to Korean director KIM Kee-duk and Hong Kong director Yonfan.
BIFF’s top competition, the New Currents award, were split between Filipino director Loy Arcena’s Niño and Iranian director Morteza Farshbag’s MOURNING.
Selected from the twelve Korean narrative features programmed in the “New Currents” and “Korean Cinema Today: Vision” sections, the NETPAC award were given to THE KING OF PIGS (Dir. Yeun Sang ho, South Korea). A brilliantly stylized animated thriller epitomizing the gruesome social inequality and debased humanity through the eyes of tormented adolescents with invigorating energy, emotional momentum and unsettling honesty, the film also received the Director's Guild of Korea: Best Director award, and the CGV Movie Collage Award.
The 16th BIFF NETPAC jury members were chairperson George Chun Han Wang (University of Hawaii at Manoa), Seok Moon (Chief Editor, Cine21 Magazine, Korea) and Rithdee Kong (film critic, Bangkok Post), plus two Citizen Reviewers jury members: Yun-Seok Jang (Pukyong National University), and Michelle Kim (Ar2Square).
At the awards ceremony, NETPAC/USA vice president Jeannette Paulson Hereniko joined BIFF NETPAC jury chairperson George Chun Han Wang, to present the NETPAC award trophy and certificate to THE KING OF PIGS director Yuen Sang Ho (pictured).
The festival concluded with the closing film from Japan, CHRONICLE OF MY MOTHER, a touching film based on Yasushi Inoue’s autobiographical novel, directed by Harada Masato.