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Busan International Film Festival gears up for post-pandemic makeover – The Hollywood Reporter

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For Oh Seok Geun, who was recently appointed director of the Asian Contents & Film Market (ACFM) of the Busan International Film Festival, this year’s market is an opportunity to reflect on Busan’s identity and prepare for a post-COVID market.

“There are three key functions of a film market: networking, sales and the project market,” says Oh, former chairman of the Korean Film Council, the country’s leading film body. “The first two functions are important, but we want to expand into the project market in order to engage with films that have not been invited to official Busan screenings and to remain part of the film festival. It’s a slightly different approach to other markets like Cannes and Hong Kong FILMART which are very independent from the festival and focused on business.

Busan’s membership in industry diversification platforms is another sign that the festival is looking to broaden its identity, which was heavily focused on the arthouse genre.

In 2019, the market changed its name from Original Asian Film Market to ACFM, to expand commercial content distributed on TV, OTT and other platforms, and to include non-traditional film market media such as novels and webtoons, or digital comics which are very popular in Asia. The market also launched the Asia Contents Awards (ACA) which recognize outstanding TV and OTT series across Asia. This year’s festival, which opens on October 6 with Im Sang-soo’s Heaven: in the land of happiness, added a new program called On the screen which presents new drama series on OTT platforms such as Netflix Hell, a fantasy thriller from director Yeon Sang-ho, and Prohibited, the original HBO ASIA series co-directed by Thai Anucha Boonyawatana and Josh Kim, a Korean-American director.

“It is true that Busan once prided itself on being ‘a conservative film buff’, clinging to the classic notion of cinema and distancing itself from other forms of content such as television series,” Oh says. “But during the pandemic, the film industry experienced a period of confusion with dramatic changes in the way content is created and distributed.”

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ACFM

The ACFM, which opens Oct. 11 and marks its 16th edition, largely retains its online format from last year, while also hosting on-site business meetings for national attendees. Despite being a virtual event and having changed its name, the ACFM enjoyed moderate success last year, attracting 205 companies from around the world and marketing 833 content, a slight increase from the previous year. The organizers expect a better turnout this year.

“ACFM is a good market if you are releasing a new movie or if you have programming coming out in the latter part of the year, as it is attended by many film programmers and key buyers around the world,” says one distributor. local. . “It’s unfortunate that we have another online marketplace, but it uses practical tools that are effective in bringing new works for sale and provides good networking opportunities with buyers and programmers. “

Organizers are generally optimistic about the organic growth of the ACFM and its role as a gateway to Asian content. Giant companies such as Disney, Apple and Netflix have flocked to Busan in recent years to purchase the licensing rights to the original works and have used the market as a platform for networking with Asian filmmakers and artists. Delivery man, a new drama series from Netflix slated for release next year, received the E-IP Pitching Award from Busan in 2018. Entertainment Intellectual Property (E-IP) Market, which expanded its previous concept of “Book to Film ”, which connected publishers with film producers, now offers original works published on several platforms, including radio scripts, digital comics and even video games.

While ACFM currently focuses primarily on films from Korea, Japan and Taiwan, market organizers hope to expand the territory to include films from Southeast Asia, the largest content buying market. Korean, and even from China, which has expressed interest in Korean IP.

“There is a fierce battle over intellectual property in entertainment,” says Daniel Kim, CEO of the ACFM. “There is a great demand for organized content, especially among small and medium-sized businesses, as more and more streaming services capture a majority of good local films. “

ACFM is largely divided into the project and the sales market. Asia Project Market, which is widely regarded as ACFM’s main program, showcases new feature film projects from emerging and established directors and connects them with global investors, producers, distributors and co-production partners. This year, APM selected 25 film projects out of 429 submissions, the largest since the launch of APM. It highlights a strong team of directors, including that of director Kamila Andini. Before, now and after, Zoe Sua Cho’s next collaboration with Nepalese-American director Nani Sahra Walker in The silence of the birds and a debut film by Nguyen Phan Linh Dan, Vietnam’s first female filmmaker If Wood could cry he would cry Blood. Seven projects by emerging Korean directors were also selected, including Christmas song by Kim Sungsoo, Where would you like to go by Kim Hee-Jung and Hallucination by Lee Choonghyun,

“Our market should not only focus on buying and selling off-the-shelf products, but also play a role in finding movie keepers by uncovering hidden gems and movies with potential,” said Huh Moon-young, the new director of Busan International Film. Festival, alluding to the role of Asia Project Market. “The ACFM will play a role of the second as much as the first. “

This year’s market also hosts online conferences and forums on the outlook for the post-Covid industry with panelists comprised of experts from the Korean content industry. There will also be expert panels by heads of global film markets, discussing ways to strengthen business through partnerships and exploring the role of a film market for filmmakers and artists.

“Last year when the South Korean government unveiled a bailout for the film industry, sales and marketing companies were shut out,” said Oh, who was chairman of the Korean Film Council at the time. of the ad. “It was an inevitable decision, as many film professionals ran the risk of surviving. I’m just grateful that businesses can participate in this turbulent time. During the market, I want to extend my gratitude and encouragement to each of them.

***

Is toronto ready for Hell?

Yeon Sang-ho, the mastermind behind the world’s zombie hit Train to Busan, brings its latest genre release to TIFF.

In the new Netflix original series Hell, people are informed of the exact time of their death and dragged to hell by the reapers. Set in the city of Seoul, South Korea, the story depicts a society in chaos, with victims struggling to survive, as a local sectarian group called The New Truth attempts to believe occult-type events are part of a divine plan.

The confusion and fear surrounding a mysterious event is nothing new for director Yeon Sang-ho, whose previous film, 2016’s Train to Busan, about a zombie epidemic unfolding on a bullet train, was widely seen as a social metaphor for class division in a very conformist Korean society. The film struck a chord, drawing over 11 million viewers in South Korea and grossing over $ 92 million worldwide.

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Hell
Netflix

Hell is a work about supernatural events, ”says Yeon, who adds that he grew up watching videos of Hong Kong action films and Japanese animation. “But it also deepens my perspective on various phenomena in Korean society and how we struggle to cope with these events.”

Yeon’s new work, the first three episodes of which will premiere in the Primetime section of the Toronto International Film Festival, has also been invited to the On Screen section of the Busan International Film Festival, the festival’s new program featuring new drama series on OTT platforms. “I was at TIFF with my first film Falsehood [2013] and there were a lot of deep and interesting questions during the question-and-answer session, ”he recalls. “I hope the work will generate a lot of discussion.

Yeon’s latest effort is based on a popular digital comic of the same title and one of Yeon’s first shorts from 2003. In the Netflix series, he collaborated with his close friend and popular comic artist Choi Gyu -seok, who co-wrote the screenplay.

“We’re very good friends and the main reason for this collaboration was to spend more time together while we were working on the same project,” says Yeon. “We also share common interests in portraying stories about social phenomena. The collaborative process, however, was trickier than we imagined. He was very attentive to detail and we learned that our perspective was quite different.

Hell is Yeon’s first drama series, but there is already increased interest in the original comic among market insiders. Futabasha, a Japanese publisher of webtoons, bought the publishing rights from Japan, and Dark Horse Comics, the US publisher of Hellboy, took charge of the worldwide distribution of the work in English.

While Yeon believes that platforms like Netflix provide a valuable opportunity to reach a global audience, he is aware of the risks inherent in how storytelling on such a large scale can create cultural challenges.

Yeon says, “As it will be shown to a global audience, I wanted to make sure that there are no settings or phrases in the drama series that might offend certain audiences from other cultures. “

This story first appeared in the daily September 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter at the Toronto International Film Festival.

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