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​Busan International Film Festival 2017

Published on: 04-Dec-2017

​Weekids at 22nd Busan International Film Festival
By Andrea Flavia William and Paige Lim

The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) is the leading film festival in Asia, where filmmakers and industry professionals from across the globe come together to celebrate film and discover new auteurs within the international film festival circuit.

As part of the newly initiated Overseas Film Festival Practicum modules, 12 Weekids – led by Asst Prof Lee Sang Joon – were given the rare opportunity to rub shoulders with these professionals and acquire valuable knowledge and experience about how BIFF and its subsidiary events such as the Asian Film Market (AFM) operate.


Weekids with Asst Prof Lee Sang Joon (first from right) in South Korea for BIFF 2017

Over nine days, we were given full access to the AFA, on-going film pitching sessions, film business and educational talks, panel discussions and masterclasses on cinema. We were also living every cinephile’s dream with an extensive diversity and quantity of films on showcase at the festival — 299 films from 69 countries, to be exact. Many films were making their international or Asian premieres at BIFF, making us students one of the first few audiences in the region to catch them.

One particularly memorable experience was watching acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro’s latest feature, “The Shape of Water”, at the outdoor theatre of the Busan Cinema Centre. The film won the prestigious Golden Lion at the 2017 Venice International Film Festival and will only be commercially released worldwide next year.


Weekids attended the screening of “The Shape of Water” Guillermo del Toro’s latest feature

Even though we spent many days in the theatres getting inspired by films, we had our big multimedia project on BIFF to tackle. We were split into groups and assigned four different topics — 1. BIFF’s programming, 2. film market and film industry, 3. nurturing young talents and 4. the city, tourism and local economy.

Despite being university students, we met many individuals from all walks of life who were more than willing to share their expertise with us. We interviewed festival programmers, global distributors, film commissioners around Asia and of course, the filmmakers themselves. You could be sitting at a cafe within the vicinity and more than often find a young aspiring director - one who has just made his debut at the festival - casually parked at a table beside and ever ready to engage in a meaningful discussion about film. Some even gave us useful tips on our final-year broadcast projects!

Besides visiting the festival, we attended a special lecture on producing films at the Busan Asian Film School, which opened this year. We met some experienced filmmakers undergoing an inaugural eight-month-long course fully sponsored by the Busan government, as part of a city initiative to support filmmaking in the region. One of the filmmakers was a producer from Singapore film production and distribution company mm2 entertainment, who shared with us how the Busan Asian Film School has been mentoring them on all aspects of the film industry, from pitching projects to production and leading into investment. We had the chance to witness some pitching sessions, which taught us how to achieve funding for our own school projects, and understand how creative professionals in Southeast Asia can effectively collaborate on co-productions.


A group photo to commemorate the time at the Busan Asian Film School

The Overseas Film Festival Practicum gave many of us the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the vibrant environment of a film festival. Being at the festival allowed us to conduct thorough hands-on research on film festival theory and management, as well as imbued in us a stirring ambition and drive to create films that could one day make its way into film festivals. Each film festival around the globe is unique on its own, but plays a crucial role in the greater framework in the cycle of films.

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