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The Korean Film Community threatens to boycott the Busan International Film Festival

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The Korean Film Group’s Emergency Committee have release a statement demanding for the Busan International Film Festival independence and threaten to organize a huge boycott against the city if demands are not meet.

The following is the statement release by the Korean Film Group:

Does the city government really want to go for the worst? The city government accelerated interfering Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) by submitting a legal application for injunction to suspend the efficiency of 68 new committee advisors consisted of Korean film professionals and refusing to have the special assembly meeting for amending the articles of association. In addition, the recent city gazette published by Busan city government is filled with criticism of the festival and insulting the film professionals who support BIFF as if they are the intruders with ulterior intension. The city government provoked the regional antagonism by spreading rumors that the film professionals from Seoul are trying to control the Busan’s festival. This is beyond defamation of the Korean film professionals. It is the worst way of ruining the festival which is a valuable cultural asset for all of us.

We have watched ever since Mr. SUH Byung-soo, was elected as the mayor and became the organizing director of the festival as ex officio in 2014. And he has never stopped political retaliation against BIFF since the screening of The Truth Shall Not Sink with Sewol (aka. Diving Bell). We have patiently tried our best for peaceful solution between the festival and the city government. But SUH deceives people as if those film professionals are outsiders with wicked intention attempting to alienate between Busan citizens and the film professionals.

BIFF is not a property of Busan city government. It is true that the government’s financial support to the festival is a part of the reason for the success of the festival, but the festival is entitled to make decisions on how to run it autonomically without any outside interference. BIFF does not only belong to the Busan citizens but also to every cineaste in Korea. It is a cultural asset to be shared with everyone who loves cinema from all over the world. That is why the festival’s independence and autonomy have to be protected. That is why amending the articles of association is so important to guarantee its independence and autonomy.

We were enormously shocked and grieved by a series of discouraging events including practical ‘censorship’ from outside and unfair dismissal of the festival director, but we still believed that we should be able to provide institutional gird to prevent the recurrence of this unfortunate condition with all our efforts. That’s why many of us willingly agreed to be committee advisors in hoping to acquire basis for the festival’s autonomy and independence via revision of the article at the special assembly meeting. As we witnessed SUH promised that he would step down from the organizing director voluntarily, we were truly stuck to our belief in peaceful end to the situation,

However, Busan city government abruptly started arguing legitimacy of the special assembly meeting. The city government defamed us as intruders with ulterior intension though every media they can muster up and eventually submitted application for an injunction to suspend the efficiency of 68 new committee advisors. We cannot help resenting and lamenting to see the city’s attempt to distort the situation to some sort of power game among film professionals. We patiently maintained our support for BIFF to make the festival back on track, but we are afraid that our patience was for nothing after all.

It’s unimaginable to see BIFF without film people. However, if Busan city government still believes that they ‘own’ the festival just because they are the biggest sponsor and if Busan city keeps insulting our efforts in finding solution as ulterior interference from outside, we cannot find any reason to be attending BIFF. We, Korean group of film associations, will try to pass a resolution for boycotting BIFF2016 after collecting consensus of all associations. The world will witness the empty red carpet for the first time in 20 years of BIFF’ history and the audience from all over the world will stop coming to Busan for the festival any more. It takes quite a long time to build a festival, but it does just a blink of an eye to be collapsed. Do SUH and Busan city government want to see BIFF disappear just like that? By all means, we truly hope our desperate outcry and ultimatum will be taken seriously.

We strongly demand the followings;
– The mayor, SUH should resign from the BIFF’s organizing director immediately and agree to revision of the articles for the festival’s autonomy and independence!
– The city government must stop unjust interference on BIFF and withdraw the legal application for injunction against suspension of efficiency of 68 new committee advisors!
– SUH should make public apology for his continuous wrongful actions damaging the festival and promise that it will never happen again!
If the city government does not take significant actions on our demands above, there will be none of the Korean film community attending this year’s Busan International Film Festival.

Korean Film Group’s Emergency Committee for Defending BIFF’s Independence
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