Magazine article Screen International

New Busan Co-Director Kang Soo-Youn Talks Bright Future

Magazine article Screen International

New Busan Co-Director Kang Soo-Youn Talks Bright Future

Article excerpt

As the 20th Busan International Film Festival launches, new co-director Kang Soo-youn tells Jean Noh why the event is stronger than ever despite a year of political turmoil and funding cuts

The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) is celebrating its 20th anniversary at the end of a controversial year, including facing what many have seen as retaliatory budget cuts following its decision last year to screen documentary The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol despite government opposition.

One of the outcomes of the tug of war with Busan City Hall was the July appointment of a new co-director, the award-winning veteran actress Kang Soo-youn (The Surrogate Woman). The local industry found this a welcome compromise, and subsequent developments include the CEO of Seoul Cinema, Ko Eun-ah, also a veteran actress, contributing $86,000 to the festival in support.

Other film industry figures and sponsors have been rallying around the festival throughout the past year, and BIFF has managed to pull through. It will screen 304 films from 75 countries between October 1-10, with 121 world and international premieres, comparable with last year's 312 films from 79 countries (132 world and international premieres). Here, Kang Soo-youn reveals why she has a positive outlook for Busan's future.

How are you settling into the new job?

It's completely different from being an actress and I've been with the festival from the first edition, but I've found it's very different from that, too. Up until now, I was attending the festival from a guest's standpoint but now I'm a host.

It's been a controversial year for the festival, particularly with its reduced budget and perhaps some residual political manoeuvring. Can you comment on that?

This has been a uniquely difficult year for the festival, domestically. But I don't think there has been a single year that wasn't difficult. The only thing is that the problems of this year, domestically and internally, with Busan City and the government, were made more of a [public] issue. But since we are 20 years old now, we think of it as meaning we are becoming grown-up and accept it - and I dare say that, from next year, [other] difficult and troublesome issues will arise, too. So this is the time to start a plan that can look out over the next 20 years.

The budget cutback was the most difficult problem to solve but it looks like this year we will have more sponsorship than ever. We have so many people helping us. …

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