While majority of the industry and audiences have for long now paid heed to festivals like Cannes, Toronto and Venice, The Busan International Film Festival has unfortunately been often been omitted from regular parlance, without realization of the importance of the festival globally. For the unknown, the festival in its 21st year has captured the spot of being the most prominent discovery festival in Asia and among the globally most important festivals.
Held in the South Korean city of Busan, The 21st Busan International Film Festival, despite the controversies surrounding it, put up a show worthy of praise. Lesser known to many, the festival in addition to showcasing the best of Asian cinema and discovering new talents from Asia, also had 16 films from India. Noted Indie producer Guneet Monga served on the festival’s jury along with Rotterdam Festival Director Bero Beyer, the prolific African filmmaker Souleymane Cissé, (Jury President), Korean filmmaker Zhang Lu and ace cinematographer Mahmoud Kalari.
Those selected and discovered at the festival with World premieres included Ananya Kasaravalli’s (Incidentally, also renowned filmmaker Girish Kasaravalli’s daughter) Chronicles of Hari, former NCD of Redifussion Y&R, N Padmakumar’s A Billion Color Story, Haobam Paban Kumar’s Lady of the Lake, Vijay Jaypal’s Revelations, Suman Ghosh’s Mi Amor and perhaps the most remarkable find of all, a short film from the Haryana’s State Institue of Film and Television titled The Limit by Sonia Sharan among others.
In addition to the above discoveries, the festival also showcased festival favorites, Hotel Salvation by Subhasish Bhutiani and A Death In The Gunj by Konkona Sen Sharma.
Wait that was not it, the Market also showcased Sanjoy Nag and Suman Ghosh’s projects for co-production and was met with good response. Additionally the boarding of Pushpendra Singh onto Tajikistan-based filmmaker Sharofat Arabova’s Parvona was also announced here. If that were not enough with regards to the India focus, the festival also showcased Mirzya, Fan and Sultan, all of which were attended by large audiences (Mirzya and Sultan screenings were sold out).
Each year the festival has tried to increase its focus and interest in the Indian subcontinent, with the India story gaining importance at the festival, among audiences as well as buyers. Understanding this, YRF had its presence known with VP international operations, Avtar Panesar at the festival and Market.
Networking at the festival was on full swing too, with an average of two-three events each day, between primarily European sales agents / Buyers attending and leading buyers and studios from South Asia.
“Busan is great if you know what you are here to do, apart from watch new films that is,” said one delegate at a mixer. True That. There’s a wave of change and Busan certainly seems to be embracing it.