The 16th BIFF was a hub for major Asian directors, with guest appearances by Tsui Hark, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Hong Sang-soo, Bong Joon-ho, Sion Sono and Nobuhiro Yamashita. As usual, there was an abundance of Japanese, Hong Kong and Korean films; BIFF showcases new Asian cinema for visitors, as well as giving local audiences the chance to see works from Alexander Sokurov, Miguel Gomes and Philippe Garrel. New festival director (and film professor) Lee Yong-kwan has also created an academic forum for international scholars such as Dudley Andrew.
Hong Kong's golden age of cinema was referenced with galas for Tsui and Peter Chan, and a retrospective for romance director Yonfan, who helped launch the careers of Maggie Cheung and Chow Yun-fat. There were also sidebars on Portuguese and Australian cinema, the former screening several rarities by Manoel de Oliveira, and the latter including Justin Kurzel's thriller Snowtown, which pounds the viewer into submission via the relentless repetition of images and a pulse-like soundtrack.
From the New Currents section of emerging Asian cinema, the FIPRESCI jury awarded the prize to Iranian director Morteza Farshbaf's Mourning, an extremely accomplished study of complex characters: a mild-mannered but resentful wife, a husband who is unforgiving on principle, and a mourning child. (Lesley Chow)
Busan International Film Festival: www.biff.kr