Busan: Lee Chang-Dong Voices Support for Former BIFF Director

By Shackleton, Liz | Screen International, October 10, 2016 | Go to article overview

Busan: Lee Chang-Dong Voices Support for Former BIFF Director


Shackleton, Liz, Screen International


Korean director Lee Chang-dong gave a moving speech in support of former Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) director Lee Yong-kwan at the Special Talk: Three Masters event at the Busan International Film Festival (Oct 6-15) on Monday (Oct 10).

The event brought together three masters of Asian cinema - Lee, Taiwan's Hou Hsiao-hsien and Japan's Hirokazu Kore-eda [pictured] - to discuss the need for solidarity among Asian film-makers and the future direction of the Asian film industry. Inevitably, given BIFF's current political problems, the three directors also talked about the festival's future.

"Busan city officials and festival officials have failed to listen to our proposals - so I'd like to address cineastes and BIFF organisers," Lee said towards the end of the event. "When you go through hardships, your pride is hurt, and I believe the festival organisers and committee members have been deeply hurt, as they've been the targets of those who have attacked the festival."

Lee was referring to the long-running battle between Busan city officials and some of the BIFF organisers that has resulted in Lee Yong-kwan facing up to a year in prison.

He continued: "Former festival director Lee is no longer here with us - and is at risk of assuming criminal liability - and yet he has devoted all his heart to this festival for the past 20 years. We should be giving him a medal of honour and not just blaming him. This is not just painful for him but for everyone who worked with him at this festival. Our pride has been hurt and I want our cineastes and film-makers to keep their pride, so we can keep the pride of Korean cinema."

His comments drew warm applause from the audience, reflecting the mixed feelings of many festival-goers, who are glad BIFF has survived but are concerned that Lee is paying the price for its future existence.

As they are not local filmmakers, Hirokazu Kore-eda and Hou Hsiao-hsien were not so outspoken. But Hou said: "to lose BIFF would be a great loss for world cinema" and "I hope one day you'll be able to screen all the films in the world". …

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