Korean film industry representatives visited the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) in Busan on Tuesday to protest the organisation’s budget decisions on funding for the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) and independent and arthouse specialty cinemas.
They pointed out KOFIC was given a budget of more than $3.1m (KW3.5bn) to help fund international film festivals, but decided to use only $2.58m (KW2.9bn), leaving about $530,000 (KW600m) unallocated.
Meanwhile, BIFF’s funding was cut by $587,000 (KW660m) compared to last year. They also pointed out that for the independent film specialty cinemas, the number of cinemas to be supported by KOFIC has been cut from four last year to three this year, with one of the three as yet undecided.
Also, in the case of the arthouse cinema operating support programme, KOFIC has not announced any official plans to carry it out to date.
Filmmakers Lee Eun, Goh Young-jae, Chung Yoon-chul and Lee Choon-yun were amongst the representatives in Busan for organisations such as the Korean Film Producers’ Association (KFPA), the Directors’ Guild of Korea, the Association of Korean Independent Film & Video, the Solidarity of Korea Film Groups and the Federation of Korea Movie Workers’ Union.
They held a short press conference outside the KOFIC building and went in to meet with chairman Kim Sae-hoon and conveyed their statement of protest. It made note of South Korean president Park Geun-hae’s campaign promises to expand support for the arts, including support for independent and arthouse productions and specialty cinemas.
The statement calls for redress, the formulation of a mid-to-long-term plan from KOFIC to support the film industry, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to apologise and guarantee such missteps would not happen again, and for the KOFIC employees in charge of carrying out the support programmes in question to be censured as well as vice chairperson Kim Jong-kuk to step down.
It also announced they would ask for the resignation of all nine KOFIC commissioners and the minister of culture as well if their demands are not met.
A spokesperson at KOFIC told Screendaily late Wednesday: “They gave their statement to the chairman and talked with him for about an hour. At this point, we have no official response or rebuttal or plan. It’s been too short a time and it is under consideration.”