22nd BIFF wraps with star-studded red carpet and closing ceremony
The 22nd edition of the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) wrapped on the evening of October 21 in the South Korean port city with a star-studded red carpet reception and subsequent closing ceremony. The festival, one of Asia’s most prestigious, had kicked off on October 12.
The red carpet was graced by the cream of the crop of Asian thespians, as well as a host of the region’s most accomplished directors and producers. Last to present themselves to throngs of enthusiastic film fans occupying the ranks at the Busan Cinema Center’s outdoor arena were Taiwanese actress and director Sylvia Chang flanked by festival chairman Kim Dong-ho and director Kang Soo-youn.
Chang’s emotional drama Love Education, in which Chang also stars in the lead role, celebrated its world premiere a day earlier as BIFF’s closing film, earning high acclaim from critics and audiences alike.
Meanwhile, the glamorous closing ceremony also marked the end of the road for Kim and Kang, both of whom had tendered their resignations earlier and vacated their positions immediately after the final act of this year’s BIFF.
While their reasons for resigning in tandem have not been officially disclosed, there has been speculation that it might have had something to do with the political turmoil that has engulfed BIFF since 2014, when Busan’s city mayor reportedly interfered in the festival’s programming and ordered a documentary critical of the government to be canceled.
Be this as it may, this year’s event pretty much proved that despite all controversy BIFF was alive and kicking. A total of 300 features, documentaries, shorts and animations from 76 countries - including 99 world premieres and 31 international premieres - were screened during the festival’s ten-day run, resulting in 192,991 dispensed admission tickets.
And almost as if it were intended as a mantra, the festival committee stated in its closing report: “Despite all the problems and difficulties the festival has gone through in the past few years, the 22nd Busan International Film Festival successfully recouped its position as a hub of Asian cinema with increased audience numbers and guests from and beyond Asia. [The magnitude of] love and support [received] from the audience reconfirmed the foundation and meaning of the 22nd Busan International Film Festival.”