This year’s Asian Programming at the Busan International Film Festival hopes to achieve two important goals. First, the festival will reflect the achievements and dynamics shown by fast growing Asian countries. Second, the festival will support artists in developing countries by discovering young Asian talent. This year’s program adequately reflects the industrial flows and trends in Asian cinema. Young Asian filmmakers have especially shown notable achievements in many of major film festivals throughout the world. Asian artists who are still going through some struggles in a small independent film industry have also shown a constant passion to be honest to their own philosophy of art.
A list of Asian selections at this year’s Busan International Film Festival indicates its richness, quantitatively as well as qualitatively. The number of selected films has significantly grown due to increased numbers of short works and documentaries. Regional grouping indicates that, Chinese, Japanese, and Indian cinema still show their traditional power.
Chinese Cinema, which includes mainland China (their film industry has already reached the level of world’s best), Taiwan, and Hong Kong, has kept its balance by introducing the latest works from film masters and discovering new talent over the past 20 years. Many Chinese film masters have shown their latest works this year, and the festival will introduce the newest works by Zhang Yimou and Jia Zhangke. Zhang Yimou’s costume action film SHADOW，tells the story of a substitute. In the creation of Shadow, Zhang Yimou made bold changes and no longer used bright colors as usual. And Jia Zhangke called ASH IS PUREST WHITE as “a turbulent love story”. This film had been photographed in Datong City, the Three Gorges, Xinjiang Autonomous Region and other places for nearly four months.
Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-Liang’s latest work YOUR FACE and representative Hong Kong filmmaker Stanley Kwan’s work will also screen at the festival this year. CITIES OF LAST THINGS, by Taiwanese director HO WiDing, tells a story about a common man who has extraordinary events in his mundane life. The film depicts the protagonist’s turns of events in three eras, three seasons, three nights, in the same city, as told with reverse chronology.
Meanwhile, two films capture a modern China which corresponds to the fast growing Chinese economy: Dying to Survive (Wen Muye’s feature film debut, which had a huge success at Chinese box office) and The Island. Films that challenge industrial traditions and successfully increase diversity in cinema are notable enough not to miss. Plus, Wang Xiaoshuai’s documentary film CHINESE PORTRAIT and Wang Bing’s Dead Souls are two works that surpass the expectations of cinephiles.
The Closing Film of this year’s Busan International Film Festival, MASTER Z: THE IP MAN LEGACY was directed by YUEN Woo-ping, who is one of the most important figures in Hong Kong Cinema. He earned international recognition with his first action films, SNAKE IN THE EAGLE’S SHADOW (1978) and DRUNKEN MASTER (1978). In late 1990s, Yuen did the action choreograph for the wildly successful Hollywood thriller such as THE MATRIX and KILL BILL series. Woo-Ping Yuen has come with his latest action flick MASTER Z: THE IP MAN LEGACY. It boasts international action stars like Zhang Jin, Michelle Yeoh, Tony Ja, and Dave Bautista with their splendid martial art performances. This movie is a dazzling, gripping, and astonishingly action-driven film that will satisfy the audiences who are looking for great action scenes especially on a big screen. It is a definitely one of the most essential martial art films that Hong Kong has ever offered.
This year’s Gala Presentation has selected noteworthy works by Zhang Lu of Korea, Stanley Kwan of China and Tsukamoto Shinya of Japan. FIRST NIGHT NERVES is the latest work by Stanley Kwan filmed on location in Hong Kong and followed the previous filming done in China – The Actress (1991) and Rouge (1987). With Kwan’s unique directing technique, the film displays the anxiety and angst of two famous rivaling actresses throughout the preparation stages of a successful premiere for “Two Sisters”. Famous Hong Kong actresses, Sammi Cheng, Liang Yongqi and Bai Baihe of China star in this film.