BIFF Finishes a Successful Festival Despite Downscaled Atmosphere

The Busan International Film Festival’s 25th edition successfully completed its 10-day run yesterday, with no safety accidents thanks to the audience’s responsible citizenship strictly complying with the COVID-19 preventive measures.

The total audience this year was 20,135 while 30,201 people tuned in to online events.

For the 192 films that were screened at 6 theaters in the Busan Cinema Center, 92% of the seats were booked in advance.

This is only a tenth of the visitors to last year’s festival. But this year recorded the highest sell-out percentage in the film festival’s history.

It also successfully held 135 online and offline events this year for movie guests to meet the audience, which is being regarded as a possible new direction for the festival.

Social Distancing Brought a New Dynamic to the Festival in 2020

In order to secure the safety of the audiences and citizens, the Busan Cinema Center was entirely controlled and ran only eight gates. Temperature checks, hand sanitizers, and QR check-ins were all placed and held in each of the gates.

In case of emergency, surveillance cameras were operated to check the audience routes.

Social distancing was practiced inside and outside of theaters through measures such as mobile tickets and opening only 25% of the total seats.

Breakout films, including Wife of a Spy, True Mothers, Falling, and First Cow were screened and 92% of the seats were sold throughout the festival.

Despite the cold weather, 9 out of 10 films that screened at the Busan Cinema Center BIFF Theater were sold out, including Soul, Summer of 85, In the Mood for Love, and The Asadas.

Films that received acclaim from overseas film festivals, such as Minari, were also sold out.

For all events excluding film screenings such as Forum BIFF, press conferences, master class, award ceremonies, and individual interviews, the Busan International Film Festival hosted new forms of events suited for the post-COVID-era by making active use of online platforms.

Forum BIFF garnered enthusiastic response in its adoption of an online conference system and themes suited for this era. It provided an opportunity to broaden the site of discussion online. The event ended in success by adding up to 20,919 views, which marked the participation rate at an all-time high.

Successfully cementing the creative ‘audience participating’ program and the ‘youth planning team’ program held for the first time this year, Community BIFF gained support from the new generation.

Although only 25% of seats were able to be run due to the COVID-19 preventive measures, 37 out of 46 screenings were sold out with 1,824 audiences visiting Nampo-dong.

Community BIFF will keep extending its domain to a diversified cultural hub, pursuing the value of coexistence through communication and compassion and keeping a parallel relationship between audiences and the administration.

Jeff Liebsch
Jeff Liebsch has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Eurobasket, Tribal Football and Yonhap News. He can be followed on Twitter at @chevybusan.

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