Cannes Leads Tributes to Busan Festival Programmer Kim Ji-Seok

By Shackleton, Liz | Screen International, May 19, 2017 | Go to article overview

Cannes Leads Tributes to Busan Festival Programmer Kim Ji-Seok


Shackleton, Liz, Screen International


Busan film festival deputy director died of a heart attack in Cannes, aged 57.

Tributes have been pouring in for Kim Ji-seok, deputy director and executive programmer of Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), who died of a heart attack at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday night.

Among the festival chiefs, filmmakers and industry executives offering condolences were Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Fremaux who described Kim as "a true professional and a great programmer."

"He was curious about everything and watched everything. We are heart-broken over his passing and would like to offer our condolences to his family. Our community has lost one of its most precious members," Fremaux said.

One of BIFF's founding members, Kim focused on programming Asian cinema and helped discover many of today's leading Asian filmmakers. Roger Garcia, executive director of the Asian Film Awards Academy, said: "He lit up the careers of many filmmakers, and illuminated many areas of cinema and films for audiences and the film community around the world."

Tokyo International Film Festival also paid tribute: "We are extremely shocked by suddenly losing Mr Kim Jiseok, who was one of the greatest leaders of Asian cinema and Asian film festivals. We owe him tremendously and will never forget his generosity, his smile and his love for cinema."

Many Asian filmmakers expressed their shock on social media on Friday morning when the festival woke up to news of Kim's death. "I can't believe it. He was my benefactor, my brother. I had a lot of help from Mr Kim. My tears won't stop," said Japan's Isao Yukisada.

Bangladeshi filmmaker Mostofa S. Farooki said: "What terrible news! He was a friend, a brother, a mentor, a true lighthouse for Asian cinema! A man so buzzing with plans and dreams can't leave like this!"

The Korean Film Council (KOFIC) has set up a memorial in its booth in the International Village and will hold a tribute for Kim at its reception in Cannes on Monday night. In a statement, KOFIC said "we sincerely mourn the loss of Busan deputy director Kim Jiseok, who played an enormous role in the promotion of Korean and Asian films across the world."

BIFF has been through three years of political controversy, stemming from the screening of documentary The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol at the festival in 2014, but seemed to be turning a corner with the recent regime change in Seoul. Kim took over the role of deputy director last year when former BIFF director Lee Yong-kwan and deputy director Jay Jeon were facing criminal charges.

TRIBUTES FOR KIM JI-SEOK

Thierry Fremaux, director, Cannes Film Festival.

"He was a true professional and a great programmer. He was curious about everything and watched everything. He was one of the driving forces behind Busan and one of its most important faces. Along with Christian Jeune, we loved him a lot and are heart-broken over his passing. The Cannes festival would like to pay tribute and offer its condolences to his family. Our community has lost one of its most precious members."

Roger Garcia, executive director, Asian Film Awards Academy, Hong Kong International Film Festival Society (HKIFFS)

"It was a privilege to have known and to have worked with Mr Kim. He brought his intelligence, extensive knowledge of cinema and exceptional taste to the Asian Film Awards. He lit up the careers of many filmmakers, and illuminated many areas of cinema and films for audiences and the film community around the world. Today that light may be diminished but not extinguished as all of his colleagues, including ourselves, will continue to keep alive the flame and passion for cinema which he inspired. We offer our deepest sympathies to his family and colleagues at the Busan International Film Festival. …

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