[Newsmaker] President Moon promises support for Busan film fest in surprise visit

By Rumy Doo
  • Published : Oct 15, 2017 - 11:44
  • Updated : Oct 16, 2017 - 11:59


BUSAN -- President Moon Jae-in on Sunday addressed the political turmoil that has shaken the Busan International Film Festival in recent years, in a surprise visit to the festival.

“No other international culture and arts event has had the success of BIFF. It’s become one of the world’s top five film festivals and Asia’s signature film festival,” Moon said at the Busan Cinema Center.

“It’s developed this much and has made Busan a city of film. But it pained me to hear that BIFF has shrunk due to political influences,” he said.

“Even now, many film industry personnel are not participating. ... I hope (BIFF) will be able to restore its former glory and develop into a more prominent international film festival.”

President Moon Jae-in (second from right) speaks to festivalgoers at the Busan Cinema Center on Sunday. From the left are BIFF’s executive director Kang Soo-youn, chairman Kim Dong-ho and culture minister Do Jong-hwan. (Yonhap)

Moon promised noninterference and support for the festival.

“The reason (BIFF) could grow so quickly into an international festival was because the government and City of Busan had a policy of support without interference. ... But afterwards, with governmental interference, I believe it faced difficulties.

“I promise to provide as much support as possible without interfering, and trust the festival’s organization entirely to filmmakers’ freedom and independence,” Moon said.

He called for those still boycotting the festival to participate and help it grow further.

President Moon Jae-in attends a screening of “Missing” at the CGV Centum City Starium in Busan Sunday. (Yonhap)

Moon, whose hometown is Geoje, just outside Busan, has become the first Korean president to attend the festival, which is in its 22nd edition this year.

The president attended a screening at the CGV Centum City Starium here Sunday morning to view “Missing,” a 2016 mystery film starring Gong Hyo-jin and Uhm Ji-won.

“It’s a film about women’s problems in our society,” Moon said after the screening during a talk session with director Lee and an audience, alongside the two lead actresses who also made an unexpected visit to Busan. “Ji-seon and Han-mae are the employer and employee, and the attacker and the victim, (respectively,) but they are all in the same situation as women.

“The film’s title also has a double meaning. Han-mae disappears literally but also, metaphorically, in our society, women are being marginalized. Women’s voices have gone missing. I think this is what the film means,” Moon said.

President Moon Jae-in experiences a virtual reality film at the VR Cinema in BIFF, located at the Busan Cinema Center. (Yonhap)

“The movie opened last year and many people saw it, but if people had been as interested in women’s issues as they are now, I wonder if the film would have been more successful,” he added.

The film is a thriller about a working mom who takes care of her child and makes a living by herself. In addition to its two female leads, it is directed by female director Lee Eon-hie.

Moon lunched with film students after the screening and held a meeting with BIFF officials.

By Rumy Doo (doo@heraldcorp.com)