Busan 2012: Thai and Lebanese Directors Win Top Awards

Cinema Center
Coop Himmelblau

The ceiling of the new Cinema Center is covered by an elaborate system of monitors that can display full-motion graphics.

Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit's "36" and Maryam Najafi's "Kayan" are the winners of the New Currents category as the BIFF closes with its highest attendance ever.

The Busan International Film Festival wrapped up its 17th edition on Saturday, awarding its main prize, the New Currents award, to Thailand’s Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit and Maryam Najafi, a Canadian director of Iranian descent.

According to the jury, headed by Hungarian cineaste Bela Tarr, Nawapol’s 36, which also won the FIPRESCI Prize, was the inspiring effort of "a young filmmaker who invented his own film language.”

Najafi's Kayan, which revolves around the lives of Lebanese women struggling to make a living in Vancouver, illustrated the director’s “extraordinary sympathy, the versatility of the language, and the filmmaker’s ability to start from an emotional perspective to analyzing women fighting to keep their lives,” the jury said.

Separately, the Flash Forward Award - a prize designed for emerging non-Asian directors - went to Flower Buds by Czech director Zden?k Jirasky. The Sonje Award, given to the best Asian short, went to A Little Farther by Iranian director Nikan Nezami and Korean director Park Buem’s The Night of The Witness.

Meanwhile, BIFF organizers reported record-breaking audience numbers this year, with 221,202 viewers attending screenings during the 10-day festival. Last year, the festival ran for nine days.

Festival director Lee Yong-kwan said during the closing ceremony on Saturday that the organizers are currently discussing ways to start next year’s festival on Friday and end it on Sunday the following week to secure two weekends. But he also added that the organizers would try to distribute special events evenly throughout the week. “We hope to provide high-quality programs on weekdays and weekends regardless of seating rate or the number of audiences next year,” he said.

On the market front, almost 70 sales were closed during this year’s Asian Film Market, which took place at Bexco Oct. 8-11.

Among others, CJ Entertainment’s Masquerade was sold to Japan’s Twin, Thailand’s Joy N Contents and Emphasis Video. Indiestory’s Dancing Cat and Mother were sold to Thailand’s Agaligo.

Also, Miro Vision’s Our Homeland was sold to Hong Kong’s Edko, while 9Ers Entertainment’s Never Ending Story was sold to Japan’s Nettai Museum and Cambodia’s Westec Media. U.S.-based Cinema Management Group’s Creature and No Tel Motel were sold to Korea’s JNCG.

From Europe, Germany’s Sola Media sold Twigson in Trouble to Korea’s Alto Media and Macro Macaco to Thailand’s Agaligo. And Vietnam Media Corp sold Blood Letter to Taiwan, India, U.S. and Malaysia.

Elsewhere at the market, new program Book To Film, which matched producers with publishers of literary works, was seen as a success. Human & Books’ Easy Girl, Hankyoreh Publishing Company’s Goodbye Zoo and Foret Ltd’s Yoriko were the three projects, which drew the most requests for pitch meetings during the market period.

The festival closed Saturday with Mostofa Farooki’s Bangladeshi-German co-production Television, a satire about a village elder’s resistance against the arrival of the titular electronic device in rural Bangladesh.