Busan: new and very shiny

The first edition of the renamed Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), accompanying Asian Film Market (AFM), conference (BIFFCOM) and raft of sideshow events is under way in Korea – all now housed
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The first edition of the renamed Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), accompanying Asian Film Market (AFM), conference (BIFFCOM) and raft of sideshow events is under way in Korea – all now housed in a bright new venue.

According to attendees, the new home is a very pleasant place to be, although the results of the shift of market events from a hotel to an open plan convention centre floor aren’t yet clear. Some distributors have praised the more open environment, feeling it encourages drop-in traffic; some feel the event doesn’t seem as busy in its larger home.

As for the Kiwi involvement, the New Zealand Promotion Party runs later this afternoon, giving attendees the chance to oil up ahead of this evening’s Asian Film Policy Forum (AFPF) closing party. Film NZ’s Roxanne Gajadhar, Sue Thompson and Film Auckland’s Michael Brook fly the flag, with the event a joint venture between the NZ Embassy, NZTE and Film NZ.

Before getting stuck into the party spirit, Sue Thompson will be one of the panelists for the AFPF session ‘After shock – film consoles the Earth’. The discussion will traverse the morally tricky ground of how to find “desirable ways for regional governments and film commissions to overcome natural disasters and damages through movies.”

Moderated by the Chair of the Japan Film Commission, Ken Terawaki, the other panellists will be Stuart Levy, CEO of TOKYOPOP and Chair of the PGA International Committee; veteran director Seijiro Koyama (whose Hachiko Monogatari was the highest grossing Japanese film in the year of its release); and producer of Feng Xiaogang’s earthquake blockbuster Aftershock, Xiaofeng Hu.

Prior to Busan’s opening, the Busan Film Commission reported increased badge sales with a 67% increase in sales booths and a 24% increase in participant registration since last year. Nonetheless, coming shortly ahead of Tokyo’s TIFFCOM and another AFM, the American Film Market, sales traditionally take a back seat to networking.

There is a lot of positioning happening in Busan, however, with the intention of making the events a bigger regional force. The new home, the Busan Exhibition & Conference Centre (BEXCO) brings all the events under one roof – including a 4,000 seat arena.

Former festival and market venues are being converted for other screen-related use. The Yachting Center is undergoing renovation to house the Busan Cinema Studio, which will cater to film shoots and house games, animations and digital production companies.

Over the next two years, the city will also become the new home to the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) and Korea Media and Games Rating Boards, all of which are being relocated from the capital, Seoul.

Busan continues to be popular as a shooting location, with the Busan Film Commission’s Director Seok-geun Oh claiming 30-40% of Korean films shoot in Busan annually and that this year shooting days have risen 76% over 2010.

Busan’s various market events close today and tomorrow; the festival runs until Friday.

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