The Busan International Film Festival held a press conference in Seoul on Tuesday to launch the program for next month's 23rd edition. Local indie drama Beautiful Days will kick off BIFF on October 4 while Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy from Hong Kong has been set to conclude the festival, which will run until the 13th.
Jero Yun's Beautiful Days is the comeback project for local star Lee Na-young, who last appeared in 2012's Howling alongside Song Kang-ho. Lee stars as a young mother who leaves her family and escapes North Korea. The Ip Man universe gets a new chapter with action choreographer master Yuen Woo-ping at the helm with Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy. Yuen also directed Ip Man 3 which introduced Max Zhang Jin's character, who is the focus of this new spin-off.
This year's program will present 323 films from 79 countries, including 115 world premieres and 25 international premieres. Among these are a trio of gala presentations: Stanley Kwan's HK drama First Night Nerves, Shinya Tsukamoto's samurai film Killing and Ode to the Goose, a new Korean arthouse drama from Zhang Lu (who opened BIFF two years ago with A Quiet Dream), featuring Park Hae-il and Moon So-ri.
Festival Chairman Lee Yong-kwan and Festival Director Jay Jeon, who returned to the festival in new roles this year following the organization's well publicized troubles, spoke of their hopes for a new beginning for BIFF. Among the changes this year include a 'Busan Classics' section, which will include Orson Welles' recently completed The Other Side of the Wind. Director Jeon also pointed to the increase in female representation among directors in this year's lineup, with women directors accounting for 30% of the program, including four of the ten New Currents competitors.
Speaking of New Currents, Busan's signature competition section for first or second-time directors, two of those women directors are from Korea. Acclaimed short filmmaker Kim Bora debuts with her anticipated Seongsu Bridge collapse drama House of Hummingbird, while Park Young-ju, who has screened shorts in Cannes in the past, will bow the high school drama Second Life.
This year's special program includes a Korean Cinema Retrospective on the work of director Lee Jang-ho, known for 1980s classics such as Between the Knees and The Man with Three Coffins and a strand commemorating 100 years of Filipino cinema.
Some of the highlights among the other new Korean films on the way this year include Army, the latest arthouse documentary from Kelvin Kyung Yun Park, director of the phenomenal A Dream of Iron, Kokdu: A Story of Guardian Angels from Late Autumn director Kim Tae-yong and Han Ka-ram's Our Body, which debuts in Toronto this month.
Among the many other big titles in the programs are such recent festival favorites as Alfonso Cuaron's Roma, Pavel Pawelovski's Cold War, Damien Chazelle's First Man and Jia Zhang-ke's Ash Is the Purest White.
Screen Anarchy will be fielding a small team for the fest this year so be sure to check back for our preview and stacks of other coverage.