Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) 2015

This weekend I took a trip to Busan to check out the 20th annual Busan International Film Festival. This festival highlights new young or new, talented Asian filmmakers. The focus was on films from across the continent, from Iran to Japan. The festival also includes non-Asian movies as well. Actually, I ended up seeing only one Asian-directed film.  Below I’ll tell you some general information about the festival and my overall experience. In another post, I’ll provide some mini film reviews.

BIFF is touted as the biggest film festival in Asia, and it lives up to that. The festival opened on October 1st, but I arrived in time for the 3rd day of the event. It is held in the Haeundae and Centum City areas of Busan. Centum City is fancy and large. One of the screening venues was in the grand Shinsegae Department store which is, as they remind you on the plaque outside, the largest shopping complex in the world. I’m not a shopping person, and I definitely don’t shop in department stores, but I was still seriously impressed at all they had stuffed in there.

At 8:00 a.m. I found the line wrapped around the BIFF Center and sighed in despair to prepare for a long wait. Fortunately, once they opened up the ticket center inside things went very quickly. The festival was manned by many young, multi-lingual, and hard-working volunteers. I really appreciate how smoothly they kept things running. It was a welcome and pleasant surprise.  I guess after 20 years you develop a pretty efficient system.

I ended up not getting a morning film and opted to hang around Haeundae beach area until the afternoon film started. Before I arrived I purchased two tickets online, but ended up not going to see those. You WILL NOT be refunded for tickets on the day of. I gave my extra tickets up at the exchange desk. That’s a place where you can donate or sell back (IF IT’S NOT THE DAY OF) tickets for films you will no longer be attending. However, when I arrived there were only tickets for sale and not exchange.

In total I ended up getting 4 tickets for the rest of the day. I have to say I don’t recommend this plan of action if you plan to go to the “Midnight Passion” events. Midnight Passion shows 3 thriller/horror films back to back with maybe some introductions or interviews in between. On Saturday night the estimated end time was around 4:30 a.m of a bit later. So when it was finally time for the midnight event I was exhausted. I was up since 7:00 a.m. since I originally planned to purchase a 10:00 a.m. movie ticket. Then I had movies from 1:00-10:00 p.m. with only a couple hours between. I had no time to go back to my hostel for a rest. I was able to sit through one of the Midnight Passion films then I threw in the towel around 1:45 a.m. I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t hang, because I saw plenty of people around me dozing in their seats when lights went up after the first movie.

Besides films, there are of course other special events, such as meet and greets, director and cast interviews, etc. I saw one cast interview, but it was in Korean and I didn’t know who the actors were, but the girls in the audience seemed pretty excited to see them. I believe they were from a film called One Way Trip. I also saw the director and stars of the new film Numb, as the introduced their premiere.

I did this trip solo, but I would recommend going with a friend and having someone to judge movies with. Overall, I had a great time and would definitely attend again. And if you’d like to attend the event is still going on until October 10th, 2015.

Please be sure to check out my film reviews soon.

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