Busan Unveils Asian Cinema Fund Winners


South Korea (Director and screenwriter: Muel O)

In 1948, as the Korean government ordered the Communists’ eviction to Jeju Island, the military invaded a calm and peaceful village. Townsfolk took sanctuary in a cave and debated moving to a higher mountain. Cast: Min-chul SUNG, Jung-won YANG, Young-soon OH, Soon-dong PARK, Suk-bum MOON, Kyung-sub JANG. International Premiere

A total of 24 projects will receive support for script development, production and postproduction.

The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) on Tuesday unveiled the 24 winners of this year's Asian Cinema Fund, which will receive support for script development, production or postproduction and/or invitations to the South Korean film fest.

Since its introduction in 2007, the Asian Cinema Fund has been credited with introducing notable Asian movies to the international community, such as South Korean filmmaker O Muel's Jiseul (2012), the first local film to win a grand prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Last year, the program introduced the Production Support Fund to reinforce its commitment to independent film. The 2018 winner of the Production Support Fund hails from home: Snow Moon by Lim Dae-hyung, a pic about a high-school girl who discovers a love letter addressed to her recently divorced mother. Lim will receive a cash grant of 200 million won ($180,000) and in-kind postproduction support for the film, which is due to premiere at the 24th Busan Film Festival in 2019.

This year, organizers said "there were filmmakers from Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia, and the Middle East — regions where the Busan festival provides continuous interest, submitted high-quality projects. This indicates the growth in Asian cinema as well as an increase in the number of talented filmmakers in these regions."

The five projects receiving support from the Script Development Fund include: De Facto by Rakan Mayasi (Palestine, Lebanon); The Idiots by Cheung King Wai (Hong Kong, China); In the Belly of a Tiger by Siddartha Jatla (India); Moon Night Diver by Shingo Ota (Japan, Taiwan, South Korea); and The Palace by Anil Ranjan Baral (Nepal, Netherlands, U.S.).

Post-Production Fund support will go to six feature debut projects from regional directors: Fly by Night by Zahir Omar (Malaysia), House of Hummingbird by Kim Bora (South Korea), Maggie by Yi Okseop (South Korea), My Dear Friend by Yang Pingdao (China), Nakorn-Sawan by Puangsoi Aksornsawang (Thailand) and Sub-zero Wind by Kim Yuri (South Korea).

The films will receive in-kind support that includes digital intermediate, sound mixing, English subtitles spotting and digital cinema package from quality postproduction studios in South Korea. Partner companies include the state-backed film body Korean Film Council, CJ Powercast, 2L Imageworks, Wavelab STD, Studio SH, Plus Gain, Pluto Sound Group and Kumtle.

A total of 12 titles were selected for the Asian Network of Documentary (AND) Fund, which aids theatrical releases for feature-length projects.

Organizers noted an "increase in the number of co-productions," which is "a welcoming trend since it shows that Asian documentary filmmakers are currently building networks and striving to reach outside of Asia. This year’s selected Asian projects portray the lives of ordinary people in a simple and poetic manner, who are in the midst of extreme circumstances such as war, displacement, urban development, and changing times with great cinematography."

Winning works are: 206 – A Fragmented Past Unearthed by HEO Chulnyung (South Korea), Absence by Ekta M (India), Blue Island by Chan Tze Woon (Hong Kong), Castle by Hamed Zolfaghari (Iran), Kabul Dystopian Symphony by Aboozar Amini (Afghanistan, Japan, Netherlands), Last Night I Saw You Smiling by Neang Kavich (Cambodia), Odoriko by Yoichiro Okutani (Japan), Pomelo by Phuong Thao Tran (Vietnam), The Primate Citizen by Sinae Ha (South Korea), The Silhouettes by Afsaneh Salari (Iran, Philippines), To Name by Hyunsook Joo (South Korea) and The Way to You by Byun Gyuri (South Korea).

Selected projects will be invited to participate in the AND Program held at the 23rd Busan International Film Festival, which is set to run Oct. 4-13. The program will provide mentoring and networking opportunities to assist in the completion of documentary projects. BIFF Mecenat and BNK Busan Bank have provided sponsorship for the AND fund.