Chinese movies dominate Busan International Film Festival
CHINESE movies took home the two main prizes at Asia’s premier film festival, with judges lauding their portrayal of two very different versions of modern reality in their country.
Wang Xuebo’s The Knife in the Clear Water and The Donor, from Zang Qiwu, were Saturday morning announced as winners of the New Currents award at the 21st Busan International Film Festival.
The directors collected the two prizes of US$30,000 that come with the award when the festival officially closed on the night of October 15.
“These films were incredible,” said veteran African director Souleymane Cisse, New Currents jury head.
Wang’s first feature presents a lyrical look at the often-stark realities of life in a mountain village and judges praised the debut director for his “extremely photogenic” production that “serves as a backdrop to a poetic parable on grief and freedom”.
For what is also his first film as a director, Zang – who for a number of years worked alongside acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou (Curse of the Golden Flower) – turned his attention to the controversial issue of organ transplants.
“The filmmaker creates a portrait of humanity and sacrifice that is restraint yet boiling with underlying emotion,” said Cisse.
The decision to hand the awards to two Chinese films came as relations between Beijing and Seoul appear strained following moves in South Korea to set up a missile defence shield with the aid of the United States.
Korean television shows – wildly popular in China – have since August vanished from broadcast in China while a series of planned K-pop events have been cancelled.
There were 11 films from seven nations and territories in the running this year for the New Currents award and Cisse said judges had been impressed by them all.
“We could really feel the passion of the directors,” he said.
The strength of the main competition this year proved the perfect tonic both for the festival and the thousands of film fans who make the annual trek to South Korea’s second city.
Despite those troubles – and a slashed budget – the BIFF programme managed to reflect the growth of an Asian film industry that seems, on this evidence, to be in rude health.
In fact, this year’s festival features a first for Myanmar; Wera Aung’s short film about the 2007 Saffron Revolution, The Robe, debuted at BIFF on October 15. –
Souleymane Ciss New Currents Jury Head
Crowds cheer and photograph Sai Sai and Ni Ni Khin Zaw’s lipstick face-off.