Busan’s New Currents Award shared by Mourning and Nino.

The 16th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) wrapped today (Oct 14) after its third most successful run with 196,177 admissions, up 7.5% from last year. The New Currents Award went ex-aequo to Morteza Farshbaf’s Mourning from Iran and Loy Arcenas’ Nino from the Philippines. The Flash Forward Award went to Guido Lombardi’s La-Bas: A Criminal Education.

Festival director Lee Yong Kwan surprised local and international journalists at the closing press conference today by announcing that the much-anticipated, hurriedly-completed $158m Busan Cinema Center was leaking during the rain. He went on to say that the construction company Hanjin and the Center’s operational team had been turning a deaf ear to the festival’s demands and pleas for cooperation on several issues even before the rain started this morning.

“Our staff has been having a terrible time running the festival in this unfinished building. We’ve begun to think the Busan Cinema Center might actually be a burden. The festival has had a history of operating in difficult situations – moving to cold-weather November to accommodate the Asian Games at one point and held in the Citizens’ Hall, and our staff has also been operating out of shipping containers in the Yachting Center. We were so poor that maybe this building is too grandiose for us. It is not doing a service to the audiences. The main highlight of the festival this year was the audience’s understanding and sense of public order throughout,” he said.

Festival organisers had previously mentioned they would have been happy to wait another year before moving into the new dedicated venue. The city’s initiative to start in the new center rushed construction to finish in time for this edition. Festival participants had been remarking upon the fact that the interior of the ambitious building designed by Coop Himmelblau still looked very much like it had until very recently been outside as part of a construction site and that it was missing certain finishings. Volunteers were wielding mops and buckets today as the rain started leaking through several parts of the structure.

New Currents jury head Yonfan was on hand to announce award winners but added, “The 16th BIFF has been a successful and well-run festival since the first day. Perhaps it was too much success. Probably this rain is here so that we can think about how to overcome difficulties. Usually festival press conferences talk about what a beautiful thing the event was. I’m very touched the festival director, press and people are so concerned. The first time is always difficult but all those problems will and should be solved.”

He lauded New Currents winners Mourning and Nino saying, “There were many fine productions but we the jury decided on two criteria: one, the filmmaker has to have honesty and believe in the subject matter, and two, do they really offer something new to cinema?”

Mourning also picked up the Fipresci Award whose jury praised it as “an extremely impressive debut with an assured and mature visual style.”

The Flash Forward jury described La-Bas as “a multi-layered, simply told story of the contemporary issue of migration. This film explores a community with true compassion.” The film had world premiered in Venice where it won the Luigi Laurentiis Lion of the Future Award for a first work and was an international premiere in Busan.

Other awards included the BIFF Mecenat Award for documentaries which went to Park Bae-il’s Sea Of Butterfly and Yoko Ide’s Shoji & Takao. The KNN Movie Award, also known as the Audience Award, went to Mangesh Hadawale’s Watch Indian Circus.

The Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) Award went to the Korean animation King Of Pigs, “a brilliantly stylized thriller epitomizing the gruesome social inequality and debased humanity through the eyes of tormented adolescents with invigorating energy, emotional momentum and unsettling honesty.”

One of the festival’s buzz films, King Of Pigs also picked up the Directors’ Guild of Korea (DGK) best director award for Yeun Sang Ho and the CGV Movie Collage Award.

The fest’s Closing Film was Harada Masato’s Chronicle Of My Mother. The festival screened 307 films from 70 countries during its nine-day run.