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Festivals: Busan IFF

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Busan 2017 Review: PARK HWA-YOUNG Lashes Out with Foul and Excessive Misery

Among the dozens of local indie films that wind up at the Busan International Film Festival every year, a number tend to be dark social dramas that explore the worst aspects of society. Often set in winter (likely due to...

Busan 2017 Review: HOME Settles in for Pleasant if Predictable Family Drama

Busan-set family melodrama Home doesn't stray from stock themes of Korean dramas yet its endearing young cast and genuine feelings make it a pleasant debut from newcomer Kim Jong-woo. Jun-ho is a middle school student who lives with half-brother Seong-ho...

Busan 2017 Review: BLOCKAGE Chronicles the Hard Times of a Desperate Man

Faced with losing his job and his family on the same day, a shady municipal officer in contemporay Tehran is forced to make some difficult choices in Blockage, Mohsen Gharaie’s gripping social drama.   Qasem (Hamed Behdad) is tasked with...

Busan 2017 Review: ECOLOGY IN CONCRETE Explores the Heart of Modern Seoul

Following her Talking Architect films, director Jeong Jae-eun once again explores the complicated systems behind Seoul's urban planning, a field which encompasses both fascinating sociological insights and frustrating political obstacles. In Jeong's hands, this exploration of the growth of Seoul's...

Busan 2017: AFTER MY DEATH and BLOCKAGE Pick Up New Currents Awards

Ahead of its closing ceremony this evening, the 22nd Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) announced its awards today which included top honors in their signature New Currents competition for the Korean film After My Death from Kim Eui-seok and the...

Busan 2017 Review: HIT THE NIGHT Flips Genders in Talky Game of Cat and Mouse

Following quickly on the heels of her surprising debut Bitch on the Beach, which bowed at the Seoul Independent Film Festival last year, Jeong Ga-young gets her first Busan berth with Hit the Night, which once again features the director...

Busan 2017 Review: METHOD Gets Booed Off the Stage

Bang Eun-jin scales things down significantly for her fourth work, the theater world forbidden love story Method. Lacking any chemistry between its leads, this facile mirrored narrative proves to be Bang's least impressive work as it trudges through thinly drawn...

Busan 2017 Review: THE THIRD MURDER Ponders the Unknowable in Quiet and Electric Mystery

Known for his controlled and humanistic family dramas, acclaimed filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda tries his hand at the bread and butter of the Japanese mainstream, the murder mystery. The result, which he directed from his own script, is the ruminative and...

Busan 2017 Review: AFTER MY DEATH Breathlessly Ponders High School Suicide

The New Currents competition gets a jolt of energy with Kim Ui-seok's livewire debut After My Death. Much like fellow competition title Last Child, the grief and guilt surrounding a high schooler's death also forms the crux of this film,...

Busan 2017 Review: MICROHABITAT, a Poignant and Lively Debut

Perhaps the most impressive Korean debut at Busan this year, the thoughtful and entertaining Microhabitat is a convincing showcase for star Esom and and an even more impressive calling card for director Jeon Go-woon, who becomes the first woman in...

Busan 2017 Review: LAST CHILD, a Powerful Tale of Guilt and Grief

Grief and guilt get a thorough review in Shin Dong-seok's debut film Last Child, one of three Korean films competing in this year's New Currents competition in Busan. A trio of powerful performances ground this emotionally gritty tale and lure...

Busan 2017 Review: THE WORK, an Essential Exploration into Masculine Fragility

There are few places in the world more terrifying than prison. For most of us, it is an environment we will never have to experience first hand, but for those who are incarcerated, it is a community of division, hostility...

Busan 2017 Review: A TIGER IN WINTER Hunts Our Individual Fears

Following his wonderfully droll indies Romance Joe and A Matter of Interpretation, both of which also debuted at Busan, director Lee Kwang-kuk is back with A Tiger in Winter. Though it employs a similarly low-key but careful aesthetic and continues...

Busan 2017 Review: BLUEBEARD, Ambitious Chiller Lacks Tension

Much like her debut The Uninvited, Lee Soo-yeon's latest film Bluebeard teases a dark genre storyline before turning off into more psychological territory through several layered images and a protagonist who isn't quite what he seems, played by Cho Jin-woong...

Busan 2017 Review: MISSING, a Compelling Women-Led Kidnap Drama

The kidnap thriller is a popular genre in Korea but E.Oni's Missing proves to be a refreshing addition to the crowded genre, buoyed by a pair of fine performances by Uhm Ji-won and Gong Hyo-jin in a story forged by...

Busan 2017 Review: ROMANS 8:37, a Difficult Theological Tale

Writer-director Shin Yeon-shick returns to Busan for the fifth time with Romans 8:37, a thoughtful if not exactly thought-provoking theological tale of faith, suffering and coverups. Focusing exclusively on the complicated inner workings and relationships of a Korean church, this...

Busan 2017 Review: MERMAID UNLIMITED Offers Limited Chuckles

Indie filmmaker O Muel has been churning out films for around a decade on his native Jeju Island, which each explore the history and society of the popular getaway in different ways but always from the perspective of the local...

Busan 2017 Review: MAN HUNT, a Disaster in Search of a Director

John Woo’s first contemporary action film produced in Asia for more than 20 years falls woefully short of the director’s best work. Shot entirely in Japan with a mostly local crew, Man Hunt pairs Zhang Hanyu and Masaharu Fukuyama as...

Busan 2017 Review: TAKLAMAKAN, Introspective Drama Dashes Dreams

Ko Eun-ki's sixth film Taklamakan, takes its name from a red desert in China which, as legend maintains, won't let you out once you step inside. In this dark and introspective drama, featuring characters that use the word as a...

Busan 2017 Review: OLD LOVE Mourns Life's Missed Opportunities

20 years after his debut Motel Cactus, Park Ki-yong returns with his 8th feature Old Joy, a contemplative work that proves to be director's strongest since his early days as one of the pioneers of the nascent Korea indie filmmaking...