Festival Reports


Mrudula Wednesday June 5, 2024

The Busan International Short Film Festival held from 25 – 30 April 2024 screened one hundred and thirty-six short fiction, documentary and animation films from forty-three countries. This was the festival’s forty-first edition. It is the oldest film festival in Busan, city of beautiful beaches, dizzyingly tall skyscrapers, the smell of sea food wafting slong the street markets, and home to the well-known Busan International Film Festival, one of the most important festivals in the world. The BISFF began by showcasing only Korean films, but from 2010 it has gone international. This year’s edition had, in addition to the international competition and the Korean competition, several other sections. There was, for instance, the experimental and immersive works section - the ‘3D Cinema’ programme, the ‘XR’ programme and the ‘Interactive’ programme. The festival has been recognized by cinema academies around the world and has become a qualifying event for the BAFTA Awards, the Academy Awards, the Goyas, and the Canadian Screen Awards. The festival also had masterclasses, special lectures and workshops.

The ‘Guest of Honour’ at the festival this year was Italy. The inauguration had a well-known Italian pianist play to the images of famous Italian films, including the neo-realist ones by Rossellini, De Sica and Fellini. The poster for the festival was inspired by Fellini’s La Strada. The opening ceremony had an artist create a part of the poster for the festival with a paintbrush attached to a drone on the stage.  

NETPAC Jury members (From left to Right in the): Ms. YOUN Sungeun (Republic of Korea)  Prof. Ms. Rashmi Doraiswamy (India) Chairperson  Ms. Nishitani Kaoru (Japan)
NETPAC Jury members (From left to Right in the): Ms. YOUN Sungeun (Republic of Korea)  Prof. Ms. Rashmi Doraiswamy (India) Chairperson  Ms. Nishitani Kaoru (Japan)


Reality, Virtuality

The theme of the festival this year was ‘Cinema and Reality’. Among the three films screened at the inauguration was My Mother’s Story by Kim Soyoung and Jang Minhee (2023). It was an impressive South Korean animation that dealt with a mother reminiscing about her life to her daughter. Her memories encapsulated the history of Korea. The daughter imagines her mother’s home, and draws it, with a bird that flies over all boundaries and reaches the home of her mother’s childhood. 

Koi Wang Chao’s Chuf Chuf Chuf (2023) was a Macao-Taiwanese production, a short fiction, that portrayed the theme of the of the festival of virtuality and reality. A woman and man are travelling in a train with the world passing by the window. It is not clear who is ‘real’ and who is being ‘imagined’. The woman gets off the train at the end, pulling her trolley bag along. Was this virtual reality, where a journey can be undertaken as a game?

Family Relationships

Shalini Adnani White Ant (UK/India 2023) tells the story of an elderly man who returns to his ancestral home to find that it is infested with termites. When the termites are cleared, the house collapses. Were they destroying the house or holding it up? The white ants are a metaphor for familial and societal relationships. The idea of the carnival, a travelling van-carousel (odong odong) is explored in Basri and Salma in a Never-Ending Comedy by Khozy Rizal (Indonesia, 2023, fiction). The images of the colourfully lit up van going in the night to far off places, bringing joy to children, are mesmerising. The irony is that this couple who bring joy to children have a complicated relationship with their family and between themselves on the issue of children. 

Han Changlok’s Peeper (South Korea, 2023, fiction) explored the broken relationship between a father and daughter by stylizing the father’s affairs through dance movements in a stable where people with masks look like horses. This ‘story’ is narrated by a fan who walks up to a film director and tells him that she can give him an idea for his new film. Park Jubin’s Gazagaze (South Korea, 2023) is a fiction short about the mental block an animator faces, because he has to deliver hundreds of drawings before a deadline. There were other short films, too, at the festival that referred to mental health or psychological issues. 

Sports and Beyond

There were films on sports that managed to speak of larger issues in their ‘short’ narratives. Wen Qi and Z Zheng’s fiction short Questions to Heaven (China, 2023) dealt with a girl overcoming her fear of swimming. It stretched the narrative of this personal fear to questions posed centuries ago by thinkers to the universe. Another interesting film on the theme of sports was Cho Heesoo’s experimental documentary Ironman Triathlon (South Korea, 2024) which examined the sportsman’s need to push oneself to excel, the proximity to drugs and death and the humble origins of many of the sportsmen for whom this is a make-or-break profession. The film was visually interesting with athletes leaving traces of running on snow like a cosmic design; cycling with the camera rotating with the wheel and stylization of actors’ movements. 

Migrants and Outsiders

The issue of migration and migrants was dealt with in some of the competition films. Of these Daood Alabdulaa’s documentary Fata Morgana (Germany/Syria, 2023) was an international coproduction and portrayed the life of a migrant labourer who is working as a truck driver, transporting materials for the construction of stadiums for the World Cup in Qatar. His life is all about waiting in queues of trucks that take sand from one place to another location, where they have to wait in line again. In Lee Sunu’s The Net (South Korea, 2024, fiction), Rahul is an illegal immigrant whose choices unleash a tragic chain of results. Yun Doyeong’s Slaughter (South Korea, 2023)  depicts the special relationship with a cow that a worker develops on a farm where they are bred for beef. Even though he needs the money that he would earn from every slaughter to sustain his family, he finds he does not have the ‘masculine’ ability to kill. The film charts his ironic journey from being unable to slaughter to becoming one who trains others in the job. Morad Mostafa’s I Promise you Paradise (Egypt/France/Qatar, 2023) is about a father who is determined to save his little daughter after a violent incident in Egypt, even if this means sending her away and being separated from her.

The NETPAC Award went to Omer Ferhat Ozmen’s fiction short, Minus One (Turkey, 2024). In an apartment block, the new tenants in the basement become the object of a signature campaign. The owner of the block finds a ‘strange’ smell coming from their flat, so he meets the other tenants of the huge apartment building, with its ornamental winding staircase, to have them thrown out. In the short span of less than fifteen minutes (14’47’’) it manages to convey complex ideas on diversity, intolerance and acceptance.

The Transmedia Forum

The BISFF was preceded by a one and a half day long Forum on ‘Reality, Virtuality and Cinema’ on 24th and 25th April. There were thought-provoking presentations by Korean and foreign experts on AI, virtual production, virtual humans, 3D media broadcasting services, visual storytelling and activism, home movies archive, new viewing practices from the public to the private and new narratives in the old and new media followed by insightful commentaries by the discussants. The second day had presentations by Bill Morrison and Pip Chodorow with a screening of Morrison’s latest work, Incident. Bill Morrison usually uses found footage to make his films. Incident marks a break with his previous filmmaking because it creates a testimony of a shooting incident in which an African American is shot by police officers and there is an attempt at a cover-up. The bodycams of the police officers, dashcam footage, footage from surveillance cameras and mappings from Google Earth are used to create parallel images on the split screen, where all run simultaneously at the same time. The ‘testimony’ is not of one person, but is non-human. It is that which emerges from the disjuncture in the narratives of all these parallel images. The truth of the incident becomes evident in the automatically recorded footage, despite the attempts of the police officers to self-censor what they are saying when they are being recorded. Bill Morrison presented his own work and this was followed by a talk by Chodorow entitled ‘Bill Morrison’s Reality Show’, analysing Morrison’s work and placing it in the context of how the very concept of the panopticon has changed with the advent of new media. 

The Busan Transmedia Forum (BITF) and the Busan International Short Film Festival (BISFF) put together much food for thought in the week-long events of discussion, presentations and films in their wonderful city. 


WRITTEN BY Dr. Rashmi Doraiswamy

Chairperson of  the NETPAC Jury (India)

Dr Rashmi Doraiswamy studied Russian language and literature at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.  Her doctoral thesis was on Mikhail Bakhtin, the Russian philosopher. She is Professor at the Academy of International  Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. 

Her writings on literature and cinema have been published in prestigious Indian and foreign publications. She was the recipient of the National Award for the Best Film Critic in 1994. She was awarded the MAJLIS research fellowship in 1999 for a project entitled ‘Changing Narrative Strategies of Hindi Cinema’.  

Her entry on ‘Film and Literature (India)’ has appeared in the Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Literatures in English (Routledge, 2005). Her entries on Indian and foreign cinemas have appeared in The Little Black Book: Movies (Cassell Illustrated, London, 2007). ). She is author of The Post-Soviet Condition: Chingiz Aitmatov in the ’90s (Aakar, 2005) and Guru Dutt: Through Light and Shade (Wisdom Tree, 2008). She is editor of Cultural Histories of Central Asia (Aakar, 2009), Energy Security: Central Asia, India and the Neighbourhood  (2013) and Perspectives on Multiculturalism: Pre-Soviet, Soviet and Post-Soviet Central Asia (2013).  She is co-editor of Being and Becoming: The Cinemas of Asia (Macmillan, 2002), Globalisation and the Third World (Manak, 2009) and Asian Film Journeys: Selections from Cinemaya (Wisdom Tree, 2010).

She has participated in national and international seminars on cultural issues and has served on several statutory and non-statutory film festival and critics juries in India (including the national award critic, documentary and feature film juries) and abroad (Mannheim, Taiwan, Sochi, Toronto, Karlovy Vary, Alma Ata, Busan). She was associated for many years with Cinemaya, The Asian Film Quarterly, where she worked as Assistant,  Deputy and Executive Ediitor in an honorary capacity.  She has served on the Preview Committee for films for the International Film Festival of India for several years.  She has lectured extensively on cinema at film appreciation courses. She was on the guest faculty for many years at the Mass Communications and Research Centre at Jamia Millia Islamia.  




Supriya Suri's Interview with Muhiddin Muzaffar

Director Muhiddin Muzaffar (1) 2 Min

1. I entered the cinema through the theatre. I was an actor in our local theatre called Kanibadam, named after Tuhfa Fozilova. After working for five years, I decided to do a theatre director course. I graduated with honors and became a director. We successfully staged performances at international festivals.


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