The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF, previously Pusan International Film Festival, PIFF), held annually in Haeundae-gu, Busan (also Pusan), South Korea, is one of the most significant film festivals in Asia. The first festival, held from 13 to 21 September 1996, was also the first international film festival in Korea. The focus of the BIFF is introducing new films and first-time directors, especially those from Asian countries. Another notable feature is the appeal of the festival to young people, both in terms of the large youthful audience it attracts and through its efforts to develop and promote young talent. In 1999, the Pusan Promotion Plan (renamed Asian Project Market in 2011) was established to connect new directors to funding sources. The 16th BIFF in 2011 saw the festival move to a new permanent home, the Busan Cinema Center in Centum City. The Busan Cinema Center is an about USD 150 million structure designed by Austria-based architecture collective Coop Himmelblau. The about 30,000 m² Cinema Center includes a 4,000-seat outdoor theatre; four indoor screens under an LED-covered roof; media centre; archive space; and conference rooms; allowing the festival to include industry forums and educational activities.
The Busan International Film Festival is organised in various sections:
Gala Presentation: Gala Presentation screens new master cineastes, the year's most-talked-about films, and world/international premieres.
A Window on Asian Cinema: A showcase of brand new and/or representative films by the talented Asian filmmakers with their diverse points of view and style.
New Currents: The only international competition section featuring the first or the second feature films by the future leading directors of Asian cinema.
Korean Cinema Today: Selected Korean feature films are shown in two sub-sections, Panorama and Vision. These two sub-sections recognise the current production trend of Korean cinema and anticipate its future.
Korean Cinema Retrospective: Revisiting the history of Korean cinema by spotlighting films of a certain notable director or films with a significant theme.
World Cinema: Presentation of new works by world-renowned filmmakers along with the year's best films that help understanding the recent trends in world cinema.
Wide Angle: A section dedicated to showing outstanding short films, animation, documentaries, and experimental films presenting different and distinct vision via broader cinematic viewpoints.
Open Cinema: A unique outdoor screening venue where a collection of new films, combining both art and mass popularity, are shown along with internationally acclaimed works.
Flash Forward: Flash Forward is set to discover yet-surfaced cineastes and create buzz among the young film generation. This section is an eclectic collection of first or second films of up-and-coming filmmakers from non-Asian countries.
Midnight Passion: Midnight Passion presents films of diverse genres selected for entertainment value from all over the world to meet the audience at night.
Special Programs in Focus: A retrospective and special showcase of films of a certain notable director or genre.
Asian Film Market: Launched in 2006 as a comprehensive marketplace for the array of industry events at the Busan International Film Festival, the Asian Film Market laid down its cornerstone as the new hub of the Asian film industry, organisations and institutes participating from around the world.
Asian Project Market (former PPP: Pusan Promotion Plan) is a pre-market where promising filmmakers and producers can meet with potential co-producers and financiers and, in turn, investors and co-producers can find a diverse selection of the latest (Asian) projects of top quality. As a dynamic project market focused in Asian cinema, APM has brought together viable programmes and projects to entice and meet participating film professionals from all over the world for last 11 years.
Asian Cinema Fund: The Asian Cinema Fund is a funding program to help activate more independent film productions and to set up a stable production environment. It supports projects in various stages and categories, from script development and post-production to documentary films to discover hidden jewels from future talents. ACF also aims to be a cornerstone in the foundation of a pan-Asian network by providing a meeting place for Asian filmmakers. The 900 million won (approximately 900,000USD) Asian Cinema Fund will be used to provide support to seven projects in script development, five post-productions, and thirteen documentary films.
The Script Development Fund is aimed at helping screenwriters complete their scripts. It will offer an opportunity to make for a more creative and fine-tuned project.
The Post-Production Fund is made possible through the enthusiastic support of Korean post-production companies and the Korean Film Council. With this fund, the director is invited to Korea to work on sound and DI with Korean post-production houses. It will help the director complete his or her film in 35mm. With the Post-Production Fund, top-notch technicians from Korean companies will help the project along to a higher level of quality. Furthermore, this fund is expected to be the basis for an Asian network of filmmaking technology.
The Asian Network of Documentary Fund was initiated in 2002 and sponsored by six universities and corporations in the Busan region. As a part of the Busan International Film Festival, and holds master classes and clinics to stabilise the environment for documentary productions. It is becoming an important ground for establishing a network for Asian documentaries by helping selected documentaries to be presented at many different showcases from various regions around the world. The Asian Cinema Fund helps Asian filmmakers realise their visions. It is designed to offer essential and tangible contributions in taking Asian cinema to the next level.
Asian Film Academy (AFA) is an educational program where prospective filmmakers and established directors from Asia gather to deliberate and prepare for the future of Asian cinema. Fellows of AFA will share the vision of Asian cinema with prominent filmmakers through its 17 days of program.
Asian Film Academy
Busan Cinema Forum (BCF) is an academic event for filmmakers and scholars, launched on 10 October 2011. It aims to enhance the knowledge and support of the film industry and film aesthetics.
Newly created in 2014, Actor & Actress of the Year is the award to focus on first time actor and an actress in an independent Korean film among the New Currents and Korean Cinema Today Vision section. One top Korean actor and actress select one actor and one actress, will be awarded at the closing ceremony. Winners will be awarded 5,000,000 KRW (approx. 5,000 USD) each.
This award is given to the best world documentary film presented in the Wide Angle Documentary Showcase. The winner is awarded 5,000,000KRW (approx. 5,000 USD). The jury consists of college students, including 70 students from the cinema-related departments of 7 universities in Busan region.
Newly created in 2014, it is co-sponsored by Daemyung Holdings to expand the opportunity of the Korean independent films, it is established to award the film from the Korean Cinema Today-Vision and New Currents with prized of 20,000,000 KRW (approx. 20,000 USD) and distribution support.
This award was newly created in 2011 in collaboration with CJ CGV Arthouse to shed new light on the Korean Cinema Today Vision section. The award aims to provide independent films, indie films, new films, and low budget films with distribution and screening opportunities.
Created in 2013, this award is given to the film that is most highly rated by festival audiences. Approximately 10 films from the Flash Forward section are selected beforehand to participate in this competition. A total of 20,000 USD is granted by the BNK Busan Bank. 10,000 USD is awarded to the director and the other half is used to support the distribution of the film in Korea.
Citizen critics from the Busan Cinematheque choose the best film from those screened in the Korean Cinema Today-Vision section and its director is granted the award. The winner is awarded 10,000,000 KRW (approx. 10,000 USD) with the purpose of assisting in their next production.