Asia Insider


Shaped by COVID, Busan Festival Announces In-Person Event, Seeks Strategic Change

Asia’s largest film festival, theBusan International Film Festivalaims to become both more relevant in the wider Asia region and simultaneously more in touch with its local community.This year, it has been downsized compared with the prepandemic era. But its 2021 edition will still weigh in at 223 films (features and shorts) from 70 territories.All feature films will get multiple inperson screenings across six complexes with a total of 29 screens. That’s an improvement on 2020, when films only screened once in theaters. But restrictions remain: each venue will be limited to 50% capacity and all tickets must be reserved online and in advance.The 26th edition of the festival is set to run Oct. 616, 2021.New festival director, Huh Moonyoung admitted that the coronavirus conditions in AsiaPacific currently make it “almost impossible” for many visitors from Asia to travel to the festival. He forecast just 2030 European and U.S. visitors. Programming head Nam Dongchul said that the festival is limited to just three gala presentations, as only two international directors were willing and able to travel: France’s Leos Carax with his Cannes film “Annette,” and Japan’sHamaguchi Ryusukewith another Cannes film “Drive My Car,” and his earlier “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy.” TheNew Currents competition sectionand theKim Jiseok Award contenderswere all announced in recent weeks.The festival’s opening and closing ceremonies, Open Talks, and outdoor fan greetings will be held in person. Organizers said that the opening ceremony in the purposebuilt Busan Cinema Center will be limited to 1,200 spectators.Unlike last year’s festival, a realworld press center will also be in operation. But the Asian Cinema Fund, the Asian Film Academy and the Platform Busan events are suspended this year.Thepreviously announced opening film is Im Sangsoo’s “Heaven: To the Land of Happiness,”a title previously selected for the canceled 2020 edition of Cannes. The closing film was announced Tuesday as “Anita,” a biopic of Hong Kong singeractor Anita Mui, directed by Longman Leung.The Asian Contents & Film Market will once again be held online. Within the market, the Entertainment Intellectual Property Market (EIP Market) and the Asian Project Market (APM) will host facetoface meetings at the market site for participants physically in Korea.Ahead of its annual lineup announcement on Wednesday, the festival unveiled a plans for a tenyear restructuring program.Festival chairman Lee Yongkwan said that the restructuring program will be finalized by February 2022 and then submitted for approval from city authorities. Busan mayor, present in person at the lineup announcement, voiced strong support for the festival, which he called “Asia’s best.”Even ahead of that, the festival this year is launching two new sections. It recently announced the launch of theOn Screen section to give festival platform to streaming series. So far it has announced three, but Huh said that more may yet be added. He said that there is no longer a boundary between film and series.In a second move, the festival is creating “Actor’s House,” in which actors interact with the audience in conversations about their careers. A simultaneous screening and guest visit took place in Thailand and Vietnam during the 2020 edition of the festival. This year, live guest visits will take place in Thailand and Singapore.Huh admitted that the coronavirus conditions in AsiaPacific currently make it “almost impossible” for many visitors from Asia to travel to the festival. He forecast just 2030 European and U.S. visitors.Veteran Korean director Im Kwontaek was named Asian Filmmaker of the Year and will receive a prize in person at the festival. As previously announced, the festival’s other honorary award, the Korean Cinema Award will go to producer Lee Choonyoung.ByPatrick Frater Variety Sep 15, 2021.Plus Icon



Malaysia Cinemas Allowed to Reopen After a Year, But Remain Cautious

Cinemas inMalaysiahave been told that they may reopen after nearly a year of closures due to the COVID19 pandemic. But operators are keeping the doors closed for a while longer.“Cinemas in states that are in Phase One of the National Recovery Plan will be allowed to operate with 50% capacity beginning Thursday (Sept. 9, 2021) with only those people who have completed their COVID19 vaccination allowed to enter the halls,” said government news agency Bernama.Venues for live events, such as theaters, comedy shows, art galleries and concerts, may also open, but with only 30% capacity, and only for vaccinated patrons.Cinemas in Malaysia have been mostly closed since March 2020. Two previous reopening attempts were both reversed after new waves of coronavirus demonstrated that the government had not achieved control of the outbreak.ByPatrick FraterVariety Sep 8, 2021Plus IconPhoto by Raymond Depardon / Magnum photo


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Phil Choy
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