10 People to Know at the Busan International Film Festival
From fest programmers to veteran producers, BIFF offers a who's who of Asian film players.
As Asia's largest film festival, the Busan International Film Festival is a natural gathering place for the region's top film executives. We put the spotlight on 10 producers, filmmakers and other market-movers to watch out for as BIFF moves towards its market opening.
The BIFF commissioner replaces the festival’s founding director Kim Dong-ho. He had previously been the programming director at BIFF before assuming co-directorship of the festival with Kim as well asco-directorship of the Korean Film Council. Also a devoted educator, Lee is dean of Chung-Ang University’s film studies department and introduced the Busan Cinema Forum to expand the academic initiative of BIFF.
Having cut his teeth first in Japan before learning Chinese and moving to China, the native of Yonkers, New York established the first Chinese in-house film company Imar Film in 1997, which manages production, distribution and marketing. In 1999, Loehr produced Shower, directed by Zhang Yang, which went on to win 11 awards at the Toronto, San Sebastian, Thessaloniki, Rotterdam, Udine and Seattle International Film Festivals. In 2005, Loehr became managing director of Creative Artists Agency (CAA), China's biggest talent agency, which has grown to represent over 70 artists in China, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea. CAA's clients include director John Woo, actor Daniel Wu and actress Karen Mok.
BIFF deputy director and world cinema programmer is one of event’s three founders and easily one of its most recognizable public faces. Jeon has been most influential with regards to outreach and establishing connections with other festivals around the globe and in guiding Busan to industry leader status in just 16 years.
Another co-founder and BIFF’s executive programmer, Kim has been one of the festival’s guiding forces, and his fingerprints have been indelibly stamped on the program, particularly in the Asian cinema selections. His knowledge of regional filmmaking industries helped buoy thefestival in its early years.
Uber-producer and distribution magnate Shi, one of the most influential producers in the Chinese-speaking region, wears two hats in Busan as co-founder (with BIFF Asian Filmmaker of the Year Tsui Hark) and producer of Film Workshop and chairman of Distribution Workshop, which counts among its Asian Film Market lineup Ching Siu-Tung’s Jet Li-starrer The White Snake and the Sorcerer in the Midnight Passion sidebar.
Longtime producing partner of John Woo, Chang is responsible for the pan-Asian co-productions that banded together Chinese, Korean, and Japanese efforts with the highest profiles in recent memory, Woo’s Red Cliff. Young filmmaker, take note: Chang will be in Busan to scout new projects and talents at the Asian Film Market and Asian Project Market.
A true Busan veteran who fondly recalls the early days of the festival at its Nampo-dong venue in the late 1990s as much as he admires the new Busan Cinema Center, Garcia returns every year for his love of cinema, and to catch up with filmmakers and find projects in his capacity as the executive director of the Hong Kong international Film Festival.
Joe Odagiri is the Japanese equivalent of Johnny Depp, with his quirky outfits and indie sensibilities that nevertheless have mainstream appeal. The 35-year-old has appeared in local projects including Kim Ki-duk’s Dream and the upcoming action flick My Way. He is taking part of BIFF as a jury member of the New Currents competition section.
Krzysztof Zanussi is an esteemed Polish filmmaker with some 80 feature films and documentaries to his credit. He has been invited as the first ever non-Asian director to lead this year’s Asian Film Academy, BIFF’s program for aspiring young Asian filmmakers. The academy gives participants a chance to make short films and take part in masterclasses by renowned cineastes.
Born in California, Wu first made his name in Hong Kong as a model and pitch person, before being discovered by this year's Busan New Currents jury head, Hong Kong filmmaker Yonfan. Wu starred in Yonfan's Bishonen and has been acting ever since, recently in the Overheard series, and also as Kevin Spacey's neighbor in Dayyan Eng's Inseparable. In 2008, Wu won the Hong Kong Film Awards best new director prize for his direction of The Heavenly Kings, a boy band mockumentary.