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BIFF holds offline opening ceremony Wednesday

Hallyu star Song Joong-ki poses before entering the Busan Cinema Center to host the 26th Busan International Film Festival’s opening ceremony on Wednesday night. (Yonhap)
Hallyu star Song Joong-ki poses before entering the Busan Cinema Center to host the 26th Busan International Film Festival’s opening ceremony on Wednesday night. (Yonhap)
BUSAN -- The 26th Busan International Film Festival held an offline opening ceremony Wednesday night at the Busan Cinema Center.

The ceremony was hosted by Hallyu star Song Joong-ki and Park So-dam, who had a breakthrough year in 2019 for her role in the Academy Award-winning film “Parasite.”

“It has been a while since we could meet in person,” Song said. “This year’s BIFF will present 223 films from 70 different countries.”
Actor Park So-dam poses before entering the Busan Cinema Center to host the 26th Busan International Film Festival’s opening ceremony on Wednesday night. (Yonhap)
Actor Park So-dam poses before entering the Busan Cinema Center to host the 26th Busan International Film Festival’s opening ceremony on Wednesday night. (Yonhap)
“I am also glad that we can meet in person, I am grateful for this,” Park added. “I wish that this year’s festival can give hope to everyone.”

The film fest will run through Oct. 15 in South Korea’s second-largest city, Busan. All invited features are being shown at six selected theaters in Busan, with no online screenings. Only short films are made available online, on YouTube and Naver Series On.

Many participants in the opening ceremony showed their appreciation for BIFF’s decision to organize an offline fest. The opening and closing ceremonies were canceled last year and the festival scaled down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I really missed this. What more can I say?” said veteran Korean actor Choi Min-sik.

“I am extremely happy for the Busan International Film Festival and that its plan to host the festival with an opening and the closing ceremony, with screenings in theaters, with an audience and with trustworthy anti-corona measures, could come true,” said Cristina Nord, head of the Berlinale Forum and juror for BIFF’s new current award, in a speech.

BIFF’s new current award is given to the two best feature films selected from the first or second feature of new Asian directors introduced in the New Currents section. This year there are four jurors for the award: Deepa Mehta, Nord, Jang Joon-hwan and Jeong Jae-eun.

At the beginning of the ceremony, the trophies were given to the winners of two awards -- the Korean cinema award and Asian filmmaker of the year.

The Korean cinema award is presented to film industry workers who have contributed to the globalization of Korean films. This year it went to the late Lee Choon-yun, chairperson of the Korean Association of Film Art & Industry, who was known as a big brother figure in Korean cinema.

Asian filmmaker of the year is presented to the Asian filmmaker or organization that has made the most significant contributions to the advancement of the Asian film industry. This year it went to Im Kwon-taek, who made his debut as a director in 1962 with “Farewell Duman River” and has directed 102 films so far.

Toward the end of the ceremony Im Sang-soo introduced this year’s opening film, “Heaven: To the Land of Happiness,” which he directed.
 
From left: Im Sang-soo, Park Hye-il and Choi Min-sik pose on the red carpet before entering the Busan Cinema Center for the 26th Busan International Film Festival’s opening ceremony on Wednesday night. (Yonhap)
From left: Im Sang-soo, Park Hye-il and Choi Min-sik pose on the red carpet before entering the Busan Cinema Center for the 26th Busan International Film Festival’s opening ceremony on Wednesday night. (Yonhap)
“At this fantastic theater in Busan, the city of the sea, on an autumn night with such a cool breeze with this fantastic stage. Also with an audience who came here despite the pandemic. The only problem (for me) tonight is my movie. I wish you enjoy it,” he said.

The ceremony ended with a song titled “To the Land of Happiness,” played by musician Hahn Dae-soo. The performance was prerecorded and screened during the ceremony. Hahn was supposed to participate in the opening ceremony but was absent for health reasons.

After the opening ceremony, the opener was screened at the Busan Cinema Center at 8 p.m.

By Song Seung-hyun (ssh@heraldcorp.com)
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