Busan: Festival Closing Film ‘Moonlit Winter’ Showcases Diversity of Korean Cinema

'Moonlit Winter' Still - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of Busan International Film Festival

Lim Dae-hyung's new drama is in keeping with the festival's mission to promote rising Asian talent.

The curtain comes down on the 24th edition of the Busan International Film Festival on Saturday with the world premiere of Moonlit Winter, a slow-burning and heartfelt drama in keeping with the fest’s promise to offer audiences diversity in choice throughout its 10-day run.

“There is a theme of love in this film, but everyone is carrying their own burden,” director Lim Dae-hyung told gathered media after a special press-only screening Friday.

Kim Hee-ae stars as a middle-aged woman stalked by the shadows of her past, with newcomer Kim So-hye playing the daughter who helps lead her to a reconciliation of sorts.

“I think this is a story about woman trying to find her real self rather than love,” said Kim Hee-ae.

For those coming to BIFF fueled by the hype surrounding Bong Joon-ho’s dark and nasty Oscar favorite Parasite — and desperately wanting more of the same during their yearly fix of Korean cinema — the event's closing film might come as some surprise, but the fest has over the years admirably stuck to its guns when programming its opening and closing films, giving rising talent from the region a chance to shine on the big stage rather than simply pandering to box office trends.

“We want to discover new talent from Asia,” said festival director Jay Jeon. “To give the closing film a chance to screen in front of 5,000 people is a very unique and special thing, but, of course, the film should be excellent. This film fulfills all our requirements.”

Lim first appeared as part of the fest’s main New Currents competition with his debut Merry Christmas Mr Mo back in 2016. He walked away with a Netpac prize, and best director honors from Busan film critics and from the Wild Flower Film Awards followed.

The filmmaker admitted to being taken aback when told Moonlit Winter would close this year’s edition.

“There’s a mixture of genres here, from female buddy film to coming-of-age drama,” said Lim. “BIFF have given me this great opportunity, and I don’t really think I would be making films if not for them.”

Moonlit Winter will have its official world premiere at the Busan Cinema Center on Saturday, following a gala ceremony where BIFF will present its major award.