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The Busan International Film Festival, Asia’s leading cinema event, is embracing the relentless rise of high-end TV series produced for streaming services. The event’s upcoming 26th edition will include the innaugural “On Screen Section,” showcasing “highly anticipated drama series on streaming platforms.
“As BIFF accommodates not only traditional theatrical releases, but also OTT drama series with the new addition of the On Screen section, it is able to present more diverse and higher-quality works to the audience, whose range of fandom is expanding,” the festival said in a statement.
So far, the On Screen Section is simply a platform, rather than a competition for streaming series. But all of the new shows exhibited at the festival will be either world premieres or Asia premieres.
In a coup for U.S. streaming giants, the first edition of the section will showcase just three series — two from Netflix and one from HBO.
Netflix’s much anticipated supernatural thriller series Hellbound, from A-list Korean director Yeon Sang-ho (Train to Busan), will make its Asia premiere at BIFF after prior showing at the Toronto International Film Festival. Based on a popular Korean webtoon co-created by Yeon, the series tells the story of supernatural events in which people suddenly receive a hell-bound condemnation, which prompts the establishment of a religious group called the New Truth Church, which gains a following in the midst of the chaos. The series stars Yoo Ah-in, Park Jeong-min, Kim Hyun-joo, Won Jin-a, Yang Ik-june, Kim Do-yoon, Kim Sin-rock, Ryu Kyung-soo and Lee Re.
Netflix’s second series to bow in Busan will be My Name from Kim Jin-min, whose earlier Netflix series Extracurricular attracted a strong regional following. Making its world premiere at the festival, the series is an action noir with a female-led narrative following a protagonist (played by Han So-hee), who infiltrates the police using a fake name to reveal the secret of her father’s death and to seek revenge. Co-starring are Park Hee-soon, Ahn Bo-hyun, Kim Sang-ho, Lee Hak-ju and Jang Yull.
HBO Asia’s contribution to the new section is Forbidden, co-directed by Thai director Anucha Boonyawatana, winner of Busan’s Kim Jiseok Award in 2017; and Korean-American director Josh Kim, who’s 2015 film How To Win at Checkers (Every Time), was Thailand’s best international film Oscar submission that year. A twisted horror, Forbidden tells the story of four friends who travel from Bangkok to a remote mountain village for one of their father’s funeral, where supernatural events transpire. The show stars rising Thai actor-singer Kritsanapoom Pibulsonggram. The screening in Busan will be the show’s world premiere.
The Busan International Film Festival runs Oct. 6-15. Organizers have yet to announce to what extent the festival will be a physical event or an online function.
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