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Busan film festival closes with eye on industry trends

BUSAN -- The 24th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) came to a close on Saturday, successfully keeping up with changing market trends and staying afloat after years of setbacks.

    This year's BIFF, which opened on Oct. 3 for a 10-day run, screened 300 films from 85 countries and drew a total of 189,115 attendees, slightly down from the previous year's 195,081, according to organizers. Along with the opening film, "The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time," 118 films of this year's invited pieces had their world premiere at BIFF.


BIFF organizers speak at the closing press conference held on Saturday. (Yonhap)
BIFF organizers speak at the closing press conference held on Saturday. (Yonhap)

    The top awards in the main competition category, the New Currents Award, went to "Rom" by Vietnamese director Tran Thanh Huy and "Haifa Street" by Iraqi filmmaker Mohanad Hayal.

    "Rom," the director's debut film, is the story of a boy who tries to raise money to find out where his parents are after they abandoned him when he was younger. It depicts a world of desire on the back streets of buzzing metropolitan Saigon.

    "The use of real, live locations impressed the jury greatly and the open ending was very satisfying," the jurors, led by British director Mike Figgis, said in a statement.

    "Haifa Street" presents the eponymous street in Baghdad where violence, hatred, resentment, and despair are entangled. The five-member jury noted the director exhibited deep understanding of cinematic language, saying, "Tension is created from the beginning and is tightly maintained until the end."

    "Circus of Life" directed by Sarmad Sultan Khoosat from Pakistan and "Market" by Pradip Kurbah from India shared the Kim Ji-seok Award, named after BIFF's late executive deputy director, who contributed to discovering new Asian films and supporting young Asian filmmakers.

    The BIFF Mecenat Award was given to Kim Jeong-keun's "Underground" and Huo Ning's "Noodle Kid," while Jin Seong-moon's "Hello" and Saeed Keshavarz's "Dragon's Tail" took the Sonje Award.

    Korean actor Kim Jun-hyung and actress Mun Hye-in brought home the Actor & Actress of the Year Award for their roles in "Education."

    "By discovering and introducing talented directors and works from areas that are alienated from the world stage, such as Vietnam and Pakistan, the growth potential of Asian films has been enhanced," BIFF organizers said.

    They said the expanded horizon of the regional film industry helped the Asian Film Market, a marketplace for production houses and film investors, transform itself into a total content market.

    Nearly 2,200 people participated in the Asian Film Market to engage in film production, investment and sales, up 22 percent from a year ago.

    "Last year, we focused on normalizing the festival. This year, we've made some changes for our new future goals," BIFF Chairman Lee Yong-kwan said in a press conference held in Busan. "Despite some shortcomings, the 24th BIFF has finished successfully." (Yonhap)