BIFF Returns Amid Political Controversy

by Akhil Kalepu

Oct 2, 2016

© Ojogabonitoo | Dreamstime

Trends / Unique Itineraries & Tours

Busan International Film Festival is one of Asia’s largest film festivals, and the most important for budding filmmakers looking to break into the industry. The 10-day festival on the South Korean coast has been mired in controversy over the past two years, facing what organizers call “political retaliation” after a provocative documentary was screened in 2014.


Opposed by the chairman (who is also Busan’s mayor), the festival faced a series of audits and funding cuts, resulting in a boycott of the event by nine film associations. The current chairman, King Dong-ho announced, “We have managed to amend the festival’s articles of association, in order to defend the independence and autonomy of BIFF. But I believe it is difficult for everyone [in the film industry] to agree on what is best for the festival, and I sincerely regret how we have caused a great deal of concern for filmmakers and fans near and far.”


Assuring freedom of press and expression, the festival welcomed back four of the nine protesting associations, and plans on continuing for another 20 years (this year is the 21st anniversary). The festival will have 301 films featured from 69 countries, including 96 world premieres and 27 international premiers. Busan will open with A Quiet Dream, an homage to Korean indie cinema, and close with The Dark Wind, a film by Iraqi actor and writer Hussein Hassan.


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