What to Expect at this Year’s BIFF

With the Busan International Film Festival already announcing its delay and will be significantly reduced this year, here is what you can expect to see at the 25th edition of the festival.

The festival held its annual press conference yesterday through Zoom, where Executive Director of BIFF Jay Jeon announced that this year’s festival planning cutbacks by saying that due to Covid-19, 80% of screenings will be reduced this year.

Here are some of the major announcements announced yesterday.

How many films will be screened this year?

Unlike previous years which see around 300 films, this year’s festival will only screen 192 films from 68 countries.

23 selected films that were to be screened at Cannes will also be shown.

What are the Opening and Closing films this year?

Septet: The Story of Hong Kong, by directors Sammo Hung, Ann Hui, Patrick Tam, Yuen Wo Ping, Johnnie To, Ringo Lam, and Hark Tsui will open this year’s festival.

The closing film is the animated Josee, the Tiger and the Fish by Japanese director Tamura Kotaro.

What are this year’s Gala Films?

This year’s Gala films include:

In the Mood for Love from Hong Kong, China directed by Wong Kar Wai.

Minari, from the United States and directed by Lee Isaac Chung.

True Mothers, by Japanese director Kawase Naomi.

Wife of a Spy, by Japanese director Kurosawa Kiyoshi.

How are screenings going to be done?

This year is going to be very difficult to watch films. No online screenings will be held, and each film will only be screened once. All screenings will be held at the five theaters within the Busan Cinema Center.

Due to the guidelines of level 2 social distancing, only 50 people will be able to watch indoor films, while about 100 will be allowed at outdoor screenings.

Traditionally, the festival sees around 200,000 filmgoers each year. This year, they expect only around 10,000.

How will tickets be handled this year?

Onsite ticketing will not happen this year, with tickets only being sold through a reservation system. The ticket sales date has not yet been announced.

What events will be happening this year?

All outdoor events are canceled, including the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Outdoor Greeting, and Open Talk, in order to prevent crowds from gathering. There will be no international invitations, nor will there be any receptions or parties hosted to provide networking opportunities for film industry professionals. Some Open Talk events may be held online.

The decision was made to take strict preventive measures and ensure the safe operation of the festival. Busan International Film Festival is canceling various events and focusing on film screenings. The official selections will only be screened at Busan Cinema Center, Centum City in strict compliance with the governmental guidelines. Asian Contents & Film Market, Asian Project Market, and Forum BIFF will all be hosted online.

However, if Level Two social distancing protocol is continued or escalated during the rescheduled festival period, Busan International Film Festival may ultimately be canceled.

If Community BIFF, which takes place in Nampo-dong, does take place, it will be held at the Cinema Center this year.

BIFF will take place from October 21 to October 30.

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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