39th Busan International Short Film Festival 6-day Long Film Festival Ends Successfully

The 39th Busan International Short Film Festival wrapped up its six-day program with the closing ceremony on Monday, May 2nd.

The 39th Busan International Short Film Festival (BISFF) is Korea’s oldest short film festival and qualifies for the most international film festivals.

The festival is the representative short film festival in Korea, and it influences the worldwide cinema industry outside of Korea and Asia. With the theme “Expanding Cinema,” this year’s festival featured 154 films from 48 different nations.

After three years of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are finally at the endemic phase, allowing the festival to hold various programs such as ‘Guest Visit (Q&A)’ and ‘Program Guide (PG),’ where the audience and film professionals could interact.

Cha Minchol, the president of the BISFF, expressed his gratitude and went on to say: “This year’s festival was held as we were returning to normal, which made me realize how valuable it was to watch a film in a theater with the audience.”

The closing ceremony, held on May 2nd at the Busan Cinema Center, opened with a video featuring highlights from the festival’s six-day journey, and unveiled a total of 13 award-winning films.

After a rigorous judging process, the Grand Prix of the International Competition went to Adjustment (director Mehrdad Hassani), the Grand Prix of the Korean Competition went to Nowhere Else (director Lee Kyeongwon), and the Grand Prix of the Operation Kino went to Seungwoo (director Lee Haesol from Dongeui University).

Because the BISFF is an Academy Award qualifying short film festival, the Grand Prix Award winners in both the International and Korean Competitions will be recommended as Academy Award nominees in the categories of ‘Best Short Film’ and ‘Best Animated Short Film.’ The NETPAC Award, given to the remarkable Asian film among the films in the International and Korean Competition, went to The Boys Club by Chen Yihwen.

The Agora Award, chosen from six films shown in the Operation Kino section by directors who attended the festival, was given to Seungwoo, which also won the Grand Prix of the Korean Competition, making it a double winner. In addition, the Audience Award, chosen by the audience who attended the screenings, went to At the Feet of My Mother by Vincent Sparreboom and Mast by Lee Juseung.

International Competition

The 39th Busan International Short Film Festival featured 40 films in the International Competition category. After a thorough judging process, Adjustment won the Grand Prix Award and KRW 10,000,000 in prize money.

The judges remarked that the film depicts a period in the life of a boy with a gentle and poetic perspective, and that the narrative developed naturally. The Excellence Award and KRW 5,000,000 in prize money went to Titan by Valéry Carnoy, and the Jury Award went to I Am Trying To Remember by Pegah Ahangarani, which expands on the very old theme of wishing for democracy and creates a very realistic and relatable story. Furthermore, Vincent Sparreboom’s At the Feet of My Mother received the Audience Award due to the film getting the most votes from the audience during the festival.

Korean Competition

This year’s festival featured 20 films in the Korean Competition category. Nowhere Else received the Grand Prix Award and KRW 5,000,000 in prize money. The judges remarked that the film depicts a story of trauma, memory and sorrow in a concise yet stunning way.

The Excellence Award and KRW 3,000,000 in prize money went to An Excessive Day (director Zhao Danyang). The Best Acting Award, which is presented to the actor who provides the best performance, was handed to ‘Uhm Junki,’ who gave an immersive performance in Honor Guard (director Lee Sangmin).

The Jury Award went to Cicada (director Yoon Daewoen), which drew attention with its concise narrative and strong visuals. The judges offered a special mention to Iwa’s Trace of Time, commenting that it was the most unique film submitted to the Korean Competition category. Furthermore, the Audience Award was given to Mast (director Lee Juseung), which was very well received by the audience.

NETPAC Award

The NETPAC Award is given by the Asian Film Organization to a remarkable Asian film from among the films in the International and Korean Competition. The judges remarked that there were “various genres, various topics, various dramas – from personal to social, local to global ones.

There were impressive ways to express and describe feelings, doubts, hesitations, inner fears, and attempts to discover unspoken desires and to find or re-find your personality for yourself.” The judges explained that The Boys Club was awarded the NETPAC Award because they were blown away by the director’s bravery, her determination to not give up on her film, and her fascinating documentary storytelling ability.

Operation Kino

Operation Kino, which is celebrating its 11th year, is a program that produces and promotes short documentaries in order to foster film talent in Busan. It is sponsored by the Jung-gu District Office of Busan Metropolitan City. The Grand Prix was granted to Seungwoo, a film about a middle-aged man who survived government violence as a child and is now struggling to live a normal life while trying to forget his past.

The Agora Award, chosen by the festival’s film directors, was also given to Seungwoo, making it a double winner. The Excellence Award went to Renaissance (directed by Noh Heekwan and Park Hyunyoung), which helped us reassess the original meaning and purpose of the urban redevelopment project.

The award-winning films and comprehensive reviews from the 39th Busan International Short Film Festival can be found on the festival’s official website (www.bisff.org).

The 39th BISFF ended successfully, letting audiences understand the special allure of short films by demonstrating the infinite possibilities and expansion of cinema through increasingly diverse and complex planning.

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Haps Staff
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