Families of Ferry Disaster Victims Urge Busan to Cancel Documentary Screening

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They say 'The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol' is one-sided

Families of the Sewol ferry disaster victims in South Korea are urging the Busan International Film Festival to cancel the premiere of a documentary on the disaster that took hundreds of lives in April. BIFF opens Thursday through Oct. 11 in the South Korean city of Busan.

The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol (aka Diving Bell), co-directed by journalist Lee Sang-ho and documentary filmmaker Ahn Hae-ryong, focuses on controversial diving equipment that was involved in the failed rescue mission, which resulted in 304 dead or missing, including 250 high school students. The film is slated to be screened twice in the Wide Angle Documentary Showcase.

On Wednesday, the eve of the festival, several representatives of the families delivered an objection letter to Seo Byung-soo, who is both Busan's mayor and the chairman of the festival.

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The families held a press conference last week at the National Assembly protesting the screening, saying the film "makes a one-sided claim" and that "it hurts bereaved families wishing to move on." Seo previously sided with the families but said that he would not interfere in the festival's programming, and BIFF director Lee Yong-kwan said that there were no plans to remove it from the lineup.

On Monday, nine filmmakers' organizations issued a joint statement demanding that the Busan government guarantee the independence of festival programming in regards to the documentary. Meanwhile, over a thousand cineastes have petitioned in favor of a nationwide movement calling for a full inquiry into the accident, which remains under investigation amid accusations of incompetence and a cover-up.

A press conference featuring the filmmakers of The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol is slated to take place during the festival on Friday.