Magazine article Screen International

Kim Dong-Ho Issues Apology and Promise for Busan Future

Magazine article Screen International

Kim Dong-Ho Issues Apology and Promise for Busan Future

Article excerpt

At a press conference today in Seoul, Kim noted he had been appointed the festival's first non-governmental organising committee chairman on May 24 through a partial change in the articles, and thought it appropriate that he take on the mantle by doing what his predecessor, Busan mayor and former chairman ex officio Suh Byung-soo, had failed to do.

"As the new organising committee chairman, I would like to apologise to the nation and people foreign and domestic to whom we have caused concern over the past year and eight months," he said, referring to the controversy and crises the festival has been through since the screening of The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol, which was carried out against Suh's wishes.

"I would like to thank the domestic and foreign film industry members who have sent support to the Busan International Film Festival as it has been working to preserve freedom of expression," he said.

Changing the rules

The Korean Film Group's Emergency Committee for Defending BIFF's Independence, a group of nine major film industry organisations, has not retracted the boycott it declared in April.

Acknowledging they needed justification, Kim vowed he would have the articles of association changed to guarantee the festival's independence "by mid-July or the end of July at the latest."

He explained that otherwise it would be too late for local filmmakers and importers to submit titles for this year's edition (October 6-15).

Kim said the necessary changes would specify that firstly, "no institution or group or individual could be involved in the festival's operation" – including sponsors – and that secondly, "programmers will have exclusive authority in selecting films and inviting guests, and not even the organising committee chairman will be able to participate in this."

Setting out his principles to uphold freedom of expression, Kim said that as organising committee chairman, he would do his best to ensure that festival director Kang Soo-youn could take on all significant authority towards preparing a successful festival.

Speaking on the stage with him, Kang said they had gone over different scenarios in the midst of uncertainty but came to the conclusion: "There is no way to preserve the festival without opening it. If we don't have it this year, there is no guarantee it can be held again after that. We can't make this a film festival without Korean film industry members participating – we can't make it a film festival without nationality."

Kim has his work cut out for him. Of the 23 active organising committee members, all but one are from Busan, and are seen to have vested interests in keeping the festival the way it is. …

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