The 17th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) wrapped yesterday (Oct 13) with a record of more than 221,000 admissions.

The two New Currents awards went to Maryam Najafi’s Lebanese-Canadian film Kayan [pictured] and Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit’s Thai film 36 which also picked up the FIPRESCI Award. The Flash Forward award went to Zdenek Jirasky’s Czech film Flower Buds.

On the morning of the closing ceremony, the New Currents jury chairperson Bela Tarr explained they lauded both their awardees for inventive and versatile cinematic language. They also gave a Special Mention to Indian director Nitin Kakkar’s Filmistaan saying: “we are not allergic to having a simple, good time at the movies.”

Flash Forward jury head Arturo Ripstein said simply that theirs was a unanimous decision to award Flower Buds, a film about a family living in a border town. “The justification is that we thought it was the best!” he said. (See below for a full list of awardees.)

Buzz films at this year’s BIFF included films of political and/or social interest, such as dissident torture film National Security, Korean-Japanese repatriated to North Korea story Our Homeland, and the North Korea/Belgium/UK co-production Comrade Kim Goes Flying.

The fest screened 304 films including 93 world and 39 international premieres with a record 221,002 admissions as of the morning of the closing ceremony. The festival reports it had 11,519 accredited guests, including 2,357 accredited press members.

Festival director Lee Yong-Kwan said: “We have passed 200,000 admissions, but what we see as an accomplishment is the fact that despite all those cinema-goers coming and going, they and the festival have matured to the point that everything ran smoothly. We worked together well, and I can say we have a world-class film-viewing culture in Busan.”

He also remarked upon the success of the Asian Film Market and, proving the rumor mill wrong, stated that the market has no plans to move from the BEXCO to the Busan Cinema Center next year.

BIFF wrapped with closing film Television, directed by Bangladesh’s Mostofa Farooki. As a recipient of the fest’s Asian Cinema Fund (ACF), Lee noted it was an example of how the fest’s support will go to parts of Asia where it is most needed. A total of 14 ACF recipients screened at BIFF this year, five of which won awards.

Nervously presenting his film in front of the outdoor audience of thousands at the Busan Cinema Center, Farooki said: “This honour comes at the right time. Around the world, they say television is killing cinema but in Bangladesh it happened the other way around. A lot of young filmmakers making cable TV films tried our hand at storytelling that way - not just emulating Bollywood films. Hopefully with this BIFF, you will see more Bangladesh films in the next few years, too.”

Full awards list:

New Currents Awards

36 (Thailand) Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit

Kayan (Lebanon-Canada) Maryam Najafi

Special Mention: Filmistaan (India) Nitin Kakkar

Flash Forward Award

Flower Buds(Czech Republic) Zdenek Jirasky

Sonje Award (Short Films)

Asian (ex. Korea) winner: A Little Farther (Iran) Nikan Nezami

Korean winner: The Night of The Witness, Park Buem

Special Mention: Transferring (Japan) Kanai Junichi

BIFF Mecenat Award (Documentaries)

Asian winner: Embers (Lebanon-Qatar-Armenia) Tamara Stepanyan

Korean winner: Anxiety, Min Hwan-ki

Special Mention: Wellang Trei (Korea) Kim Tae-il


36 (Thailand) Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit


Jiseul (Korea) O Muel

KNN Movie Award (Audience Award)

Touch of the Light (Taiwan) Chang Jung-Chi

DGK Award

Directors Awards: Jiseul (Korea) O Muel, The Russian Novel (Korea) Shin Younshick

Best Actor: The Sunshine Boys (Korea) Sim Hee-seop, Kim Chang-hwan, Ahn Jae-hong

Best Actress: Azooma (Korea) Jang Young-nam

Busan Cinephile Award

5 Broken Cameras (Palestine/Israel/France/Netherlands) Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi

Citizen Reviewers’ Award

Jiseul (Korea) O Muel

CGV Movie Collage Award

Jiseul (Korea) O Muel