24th Busan International Film Festival – Winners 2019

BIFF2018We present the list of winners of the 24th Busan International Film Festival which took place from October 3rd – 12th, in Busan, Korea.

About the festival:
The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) held annually in Haeundaegu, Busan (Korea) is one of the most important film festivals in Asia, together with the Hong Kong International Film Festival and the Tokyo International Film Festival. Since the first edition in 1996, the festival aim to introduce new films and first-time directors to the world. Another notable feature is the appeal of the festival to young people, both in terms of the large youthful audience it attracts and through its efforts to develop and promote young talent.


New Currents Award


Rom by Tran Thang Huy – Vietnam | 2019 – 79 minutes

The debut film by TRAN THANH Huy took seven years to be furnished depicting the world of desire on the back streets of buzzing metropolitan Saigon. Rom tries to raise money to find out where his parents are, who abandoned him when he was a child. His profession is a middle man to pick numbers to buy lottery tickets for his clients. While he has to prevent other competitors from entering his territories of business, he tries various unscientific and superstitious methods to figure out the lucky numbers. When his clients win on the illegal lottery, he gets some commission, but he has to hide away when they lose. As the complex slums with their own order are destined to be demolished due to urban redevelopment plans, the peasants push their luck for the last jackpot. The brutal desire inevitably invites violence that is exploded at the urban chasing scene later in the film. The energetic color and composition is the viewing point. (PARK Sungho)

Jury Comments: The film has amazing energy and this combined with excellent performances and some spectacular camera work to make a standout film. The use of real, live locations impressed the jury greatly and the opening ending was very satisfying.



Haifa Street

Haifa Street by Mohanad Hayal – Iraq | 2019 – 79 minutes

Baghdad, 2006. In the city occupied by the U.S. military, Haifa Street has become a living hell, devastated by al-Qaeda militants and their snipers. After 20 years of living in the United States, Ahmed returns to his home city with the U.S. military. When he faces the horrendous reality of the Abu Ghraib prison, he records it on video. One day, Ahmed goes to Haifa Street to ask for Suad’s hand in marriage and take her and her daughter Nadia to the United States. But before he gets to the house, he is shot dead by Salman, a sniper who is in love with Nadia. Salman suffers from anxiety, sees a ghostlike child wandering the streets, and despises al-Qaeda to the point of ignoring their orders. Amidst everything that happens, Haifa Street is still at war.

Haifa Street presents the titular street where nothing but violence, hatred, resentment, and despair remain through Salman, who is both the perpetrator and the victim of violence. The brutal violence in this film and its appalling results are atrocious; they cannot be resolved even in fantasy, let alone reality. (PARK Sun Young)

Jury Comments: Tension is created from the beginning and is tightly maintained until the end. This is a mature, grown up movie and the director exhibited a confidence and understanding of cinema language which set the film apart. Good to see a strong gender balanced cast.



Kim Jiseok Award

Circus of Life

Circus of Life by Sarmad Sultan Khoosat – Pakistan | 2019 – 158 minutes

A devout Muslim who writes, composes, and even records hymns praising the Prophet, Rahat is a respected elderly man who works in real estate and takes care of his bedridden wife. He has a guilty pleasure—he likes to dance like the women dancers in old Punjabi films. One day, he attends the wedding of a friend’s son, where he inadvertently shows off a sexy dance in front of his friends. His dance gets recorded on video and uploaded to the social media, which then gets broadcasted on television. And chaos begins to ensue in his quiet life.

Other than his wife, no one else in the world understands Rahat’s passion for dancing. His daughters and neighbors criticize him, his friends turn their backs on him. Circus of Life provides a calm and detailed picture of challenging issues, such as forbidden passions in a strict Muslim society and the search for identity of an elderly man who gradually comes to realize his “minoritiness.” (PARK Sun Young)

Jury Comments: The Kim Jiseok Award goes to the Pakistani film, Circus of Life directed by Sarmad Sultan Khoosat for showing the fragility of privacy for human beings in the double faced modern-traditional society as well as its fluent control on the narrative.




Market by Pradip Kurbah – India | 2019 – 94 minutes

Iewduh is the name of the largest and the most vibrant market in Northeast India. Market, whose original title is ‘Iewduh’, tells the story of the people of the Iewduh Bara Bazaar market. Mike is a bathroom cleaner working in the darkest of the dark places in the market. He lives with Hep, a boy who was abandoned by his parents and was later taken in by Mike. The two depend on each other, arguing and fighting at times. Experiencing and sharing joys and sorrows with their neighbors—the friends they interact with every day, the girl Mike loves, the old man with dementia who was abandoned by his family but still waits for his son—once strangers become a real family.

The realistic portrayal of the traditional market and performances by actors create a vivid picture of the life in Iewduh Bara Bazaar. Poverty is not the only thing that the people of the market suffer from, as their daily lives are spattered with issues of domestic abuse, juvenile delinquency, and elderly care, which lead to all kinds of accidents and incidents involving violence and suicide. Despite these tragedies, Market presents the viewers with magical moments in which people abandoned by their blood relations come together and become a real family. Beautiful, picturesque moments captured in the complex and dirty alleys of the market are another reason that makes this film a gem. (PARK Sun Young)

Jury Comments: The Kim Jiseok Award also goes to the Indian film, Market directed by Pradip Kurbah for its compassionate responsibility for a poor community and for its simplicity and harmony.



BIFF Mecenat Award


Underground by Kim Jeong-keun – Korea | 2019 – 88 minutes

The subway begins and closes the day of the city of Busan, and there are laborers who work in inconspicuous places to make that happen. A conductor who leaves his night-duty room and start working at four in the morning; workers in the control room sitting in front of numerous monitors; workers who inspect the subway cars; cleaning ladies who sweep the stations; repairmen who clean, tighten, disassemble, and assemble the cars; and workers who repair and inspect the tracks.

Underground captures their labor with a gaze of respect but does not treat them equally on camera. The camera spends more time on certain laborers because there are hierarchy and discrimination in their labor. Mainly, more difficult and dangerous kind of labor is undertaken by non-regular workers—it is the issue of “outsourcing death.” Director KIM Jeong-keun, who captured the labor movement at Hanjin Heavy Industries in the documentaries Get on the Bus and The Island of Shadows, turned his camera to the non-regular workers of Busan Metro. Speaking less and observing long, the film carefully and cautiously tells the audience that there is another “underground” under the underground. (KANG Sowon)

Jury comments: Underground is a multi-sensory documentary film that guides us to the underground world we have never seen before. This film captures various countenance and depicts segmented fields of laborers working in inconspicuous places, and threatening anxiety through multilayered perspective and sophisticated sound.



Noodle Kid

Noodle Kid by Huo Ning – China | 2019 – 107 minutes

Ma Xiang is a troubled 14-year-old boy who lives with his grandparents in a mountain village in China. Two years ago, his mother left home after a domestic violence incident, and his father is in jail. Ma Xiang is just a boy missing his mother, but he is also the breadwinner of the family since he doesn’t know when his father will be released. As the head of the household, the first decision he makes is to go to a city located 1,500 kilometers from his mountainous hometown and become an apprentice at a noodle restaurant. He endures intense labor, dreaming of saving up enough money and living with his parents someday. Noodle Kid follows Ma Xiang during the most important years in his life. The camera stays surprisingly transparent as it observes the growth of this ordinary yet special boy, but it is impossible to stop emotions from leaking through. The boy-adult who cannot live like other boys his age, Ma Xiang continues on his path with a strong heart, straying a bit but never veering off completely. The two years of his life’s journey captured on camera provides a bitter yet marvelous experience for the viewers. (Kang So-won)

Jury Comments: The director, HUO Ning took a lot of time to build the relationship with his object and succeeded in sneaking into the most intimate moments of his family. This royalty to the foundation of documentary filmmaking was very impressive while many documentary films seemed to neglect such fundamental efforts and stay just on the surface of things.

The main character boy – Ma Xiang’s face and body get changes in about 7 years. It implies not just lapse of time but also the influence from the change of conditions around him, in short, capitalism. In those changes, only the religious rituals and the steam of ra-men give the connection between different time and space. This is a very traditional documentary film in terms of following one person, but gets the utter strength from that simplicity.



Sonje Award


Hello by Jin Seong-moon – Korea | 2019 – 25 minutes

Ju-young tries to call her friend So-mi for her birthday after a long time, but finds out that he has lost So-mi’s cell phone number. Ju-young is searching for So-mi all day, finds out what she didn’t know about So-mi, and recalls the memory of the day she had forgotten.

Jury Comments: In this year’s Korean Short Competition, there were many outstanding films describing the socioeconomic difficulties which the Korean youth faces these days. Hello also derives from suggesting the same social problems. However this film goes one step further and shows much consideration about the new cinematic expression. While the subject is gradually brought up by the narrative of finding the missing friend, the delicate emotion is consistently maintained, and the great cinematography and the fascinating ending well supports the film. We selected this film for its effort to consider the contemporary issue and the unparalleled cinematic expression.



Dragons Tail

Dragon’s Tail by Saeed Keshavarz – Iran | 2019 – 25 minutes

Ju-young tries to call her friend So-mi for her birthday after a long time, but finds out that he has lost So-mi’s cell phone number. Ju-young is searching for So-mi all day, finds out what she didn’t know about So-mi, and recalls the memory of the day she had forgotten.

Jury Comments: This film absorbs the audience with the powerful direction of Saeed KESHAVARZ and the terrific performance of the actors. It was a unanimous decision by the juries to select this film which maximized the strength of the short film.



Sonje Award
Actor & Actress of the Year

The Education

Kim Junhyung & Mun Hye-in for The Education (Kim Dukjoon) – Korea | 2019 – 98 minutes

The plot of The Education is simply summed up. Seonghee, who is taking care of the disabled, visits the Hyeonmok’s house. Hyeonmok’s mother is a severely disabled person who cannot move and is unconscious. Seonghee and Hyunmok get to know each other little by little. But this simple summary of the plot is full of fascinating emotions that cannot be explained in The Education. That makes this movie interesting. The repercussions of small talks the characters spit out or small movements are amazing. The early part of the war of nerves between Seonghee and Hyunmok, the friendship or affection that builds up thanks to the war of nerves, their languid, somber, and sad picnic of a day, and the funny and affectionate last sequence that comes like lightning. The Education is both delicate and seductive. (JUNG Han-Seok)



KNN Award

An Old Lady

An Old Lady by Lim Sun-ae – Korea | 2019 – 100 minutes

Hyo-jeong, a 69-year-old woman, is raped by a male nurse aide. But few people, including the police, are willing to believe her words. Most people question whether that handsome young man really would have done so. The male nurse aide claims that it was a consensual sexual relationship. Only Dong-in, who loves Hyo-jeong dearly, is cooing to free her from her injustice. An Old Lady chooses a social event that is not so common. However, the movie does not easily provoke the audience with the scarcity of events. Nor does it claim to be an incendiary moral play. Rather, the drama gracefully depicts the overcoming story of Hyo-jeong and Dong-in, who are determined to reveal facts, fulfill their righteousness and protect their love in spite of being ignored and shunned.



Busan Bank Award


Fabulous by Mélanie Charbonneau – Canada | 2019 – 109 minutes

Laurie, an ambitious young woman trying to make a name for herself as a writer. Clara, a social media superstar with a large following. Her fabulous instagram life makes her a poster girl for top named brands and merchandise. Elizabeth, the feminist rebel, constantly challenging society’s definition of the ideal woman.
They would live the summer of every possibilities, experimenting in a chaotic way the paradoxes of all young modern woman′s life. But the friendship between these very different women is put to the test when Laurie gets a taste of fame, Clara falls from grace and Elizabeth is left to choose sides.
Fabulous is an entertaining look at the paradoxes that young women face in a world where value depends on how many “likes” you receive online.




Running to the Sky

Running to the Sky by Mirlan Abdykalykov – Kyrgyzstan | 2019 – 89 minutes

Jekshen is a young boy who lives in a mountain village in Kyrgyzstan. He takes care of house chores instead of his father, who has been drowning himself in alcohol since the divorce. Life is difficult for Jekshen, as he may be held back a grade for not paying the school repair fee, and his gym teacher warns him not to participate in class without gym uniform. The only thing Jekshen can do is to run. An exceptional runner, Jekshen does very well in a race, where he ran as the school’s representative. But his father is still incorrigible; the teacher he is in love with is dating someone; and he still can’t live with his mother.

Running to the Sky depicts the everyday life of a boy who leads a hard life in a small rural village. Maintaining an objective gaze, the film quietly and calmly follows the days of a boy who is a fast runner but also has nothing else he can do but run. The lullaby that plays in the final scene offers a small consolation to Jekshen’s life and to the audience who become invested in his life as observers. (PARK Sun Young)

Jury Comennts: Kyrgyzstan movie Running to the sky directed by Mirlan Abdykalykov won the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) Award for its delicate portrait of a struggling country through the eyes of a boy who runs to transcend his limitations at the 24th Busan international Film Festival.




Moving On

Moving On by Yoon Danbi – Korea | 2019 – 105 minutes

A teenage girl Okju and her younger brother start a life in their grandfather′s house with their father. Okju’s aunt often comes to this house to play. Okju spends the most precious time in her childhood here. Unforgettable love, hurt, and various good-bye moments are imprinted in Okju′s life. Above all, the casting of Okju, and her younger brother is so exquisite and successful that it tells how bright eyes the director has in casting and directing the actors. In Moving On, along with some of Asia′s greatest master directors, one can clearly sense the influence of KOREEDA Hirokazu, but that is not a flaw in itself. Moving On is eager to learn, instead of easily mimicking KOREEDA’s movies. Would it be too much of an exaggeration to say there is a movie here that wants to be the earnest successor of KOREEDA’s movie?

Jury Comments: This year at Busan Film Festival the NETPAC jury gave the award to the movie that reflects better -in the selection of a total of 13 titles -the guidelines and the spirit of the Award itself putting a lot of attention to new directors and highlighting new talents.
Moving On by Yoon Danbi is that type of film. It is a debut feature by a young and new female director who was able to show a very personal, mature and impressive directing style telling the story of a common family and going deep in making a portrait of 3 generations of human beings. It is also a strong example of coming of age movie focused on the complex life of a female character and her progressive – step-by-step -understanding of the adult dimension. Moving On is a movie capable to deliver an important and touching message underling the importance of being a family despite the everyday difficulties and the importance of respect the each other feelings and private stories. There is an amazing scene in the movie that even stands amongst the others and depicts in depth the grandfather character with the use of a nostalgic song. Thanks to that moment the main protagonist acts as an observer who eventually overcomes the feeling of loss and decides to move on with her life and believes starting to become a woman.



KTH Award

Lucky Monster

Lucky Monster by Bong Joon-young – Korea | 2019 – 90 minutes

It’s a bizarre and perverse debut that we’ve seen in a long time. It starts out tacky at first and then becomes bewildered in the middle and brutal at the end. DO Maeng-su, a weak and timid citizen is a debtor who owes a lot. He gets a fake divorce to protect his beloved wife from the scary private moneylenders, and immediately, ironically, he wins a large sum of the lottery. Then, is the problem all solved now? I don’t think so. From this moment on, the movie spins in an even more unpredictable way.

Lucky Monster is a grotesque, morbid love story of a young, degenerate man, and a self-inflicted, fanatical riot of a crushed petty-bourgeois. Amid an unpredictable mix of imagination and reality, the witty characters and events emerge in a state of chaos here and there. It’s a genre or a pathological report on how a petty-bourgeois becomes a monster. (JUNG Han-Seok)



Moving On

Moving On by Yoon Danbi – Korea | 2019 – 105 minutes

Jury Comments: Vivid details make the bond of sympathy between the audiences; warm perspective of embracing the growing pains that everyone has been through is prominent



KBS Independent Film Award

Lucky Chan-Sil

Lucky Chan-Sil by Kim Cho-hee – Korea | 2019 – 96 minutes

Chan-sil, who quit her job as a film producer, moves to the top of the hill on the outskirts. The old lady, the owner of the rented house, is somewhat strange. What’s even stranger is the ghost that appears often in this haunted house. The ghost says he was a famous actor in Hong Kong during his lifetime (see his outfit and you’ll soon find out who he is). Chan-sil gets a job as a housekeeper at a close actress’ house, and she has a feeling for the actress’ French teacher. The ghost often becomes love counselors for Chan-sil.

Up to here, Lucky Chan-sil is ingenious and entertaining. There is no need to talk more about clever stories and character portrayals. The witty lines, speech, and the situations that are used to appear in the intended wrong beat are all attractive. Lucky Chan-sil starts strangely but ends with fortitude. (JUNG Han-Seok)

Jury Comments: 13 films selected for the Korean Cinema Today – Vision have left a very good impression on jurors in its own individual outlook, style, format and mode. After a lengthy discussion, the jurors could come to a decision to award Kim Cho-hee from LUCKY CHAN-SIL. This film is based on the director’s own experience and takes on a journey of self-reflection. Our unanimous decision was to offer the KBS Independent Film Awards 2019.We look forward to an upcoming film from the director.



CGV Arthouse Award

Lucky Chan-Sil

Lucky Chan-Sil by Kim Cho-hee – Korea | 2019 – 96 minutes

Jury Comments: Of all the films submitted this year, there’s a drift towards increasing female-centric films led by women filmmakers. Among a variety of stories represented by women intertwined with different relationships, the film LUCKY CHAN-SIL stands out with a ingenious and entertaining plot that creates unpredictability, filled with attractive characters based on the stable acting skill and masterful directing. It was a film that made us fall in love with the actor Leslie Cheung again as much as CHAN-SIL was. It is a film that entails a lot of love for the movie.



Director’s Guild of Korea Award

Moving On

Moving On by Yoon Danbi – Korea | 2019 – 105 minutes

Jury Comments: Moving on shows how people grow up through the hurts and relationships with a delicate touch. This film features the director’s tenacity dragging out the outstanding performance from actors and actresses of all ages, and the trans-generational insight into the life.



Lucky Chan-Sil

Lucky Chan-Sil by Kim Cho-hee – Korea | 2019 – 96 minutes

Jury Comments: LUCKY CHAN-SIL is a film about a woman discovering a unknown possibility of her own after the failure. What’s stunning about this film is director’s talent to put at liberty adorable characters, ingenious cinematic imagination, refined humor and warm feelings into one film.



CGK & Samyang Xeen Award

Kyungmi’s World

Kyungmi’s World – Cinematographer: Kim Gilja – Korea | 2019 – 108 minutes

The title of this movie, Kyungmi’s World, is interesting. Kyungmi doesn′t appear as the main character in the movie. The main characters are Suyeon and her grandmother (even her grandmother′s name is not Kyungmi). Suyeon is an aspiring actress, but she has yet to escape from her difficult, unknown life, even though she has been on the same path for seven years. One day, Suyeon gets a call. The owner of her grandma’s house tells Suyeon that the house demolished, and her grandma is hospitalized. Suyeon visits her grandmother, who has not been in touch with each other for ages. And she finds out that her grandmother is suffering from dementia. Suyeon and her grandmother′s family history, or their ill-fated intertwined lives, constantly collide throughout the movie, creating intense tension. Kyungmi’s sad world exists in between of the conflicts. (JUNG Han-Seok)

Jury Comments: By maintaining a consistent tone and look, the camera of Kyungmi’s World leads audience to the world of Kyungmi who is seemingly absent in the film (a mother and also a daughter).

The calm but intense structure and powerful close-up shots linger in audience’s mind even after film is over. A cinematographer, who endured difficulties and finished shooting despite the harsh production conditions, deserves to be praised.



Citizen Critics’ Award

Moving On

Moving On by Yoon Danbi – Korea | 2019 – 105 minutes

Jury Comments: It is a film that shows how considerate the director is to all the family members and depicts the daily lives of the family in a delicate and warm way. The film is a rare achievement that brings nostalgia to the audiences in one summer night at the grandfather’s house which is a retrospective space.



Busan Cinephile Award

Que Sea Ley

Que Sea Ley (Let it be law) by Juan Solanas – Argentina | 2019 – 86 minutes

In Argentina, a woman dies every week due to clandestine abortion. In 2018, a bill supporting free, safe and legal abortion is introduced to the National Congress, sparking an intense debate in Argentinian society. Que Sea Ley is a documentary that shows the ongoing struggle to legalize abortion in Argentina. Without even the slightest attempt to maintain an objective gaze in this conflict between the fetuses’ right to life and women’s right to make decisions about her reproductive health, Juan SOLANAS simply takes one side. As a result, the film is vivid, passionate, and powerful. Women activists with colorfully painted faces and armed with confident smiles shout their slogans, sing, and march. On the other side of these exciting protests rallies that seem more like festivals loom the many corpses of women who lost their lives to illegal abortion. SOLANAS’s camera captures the passion and excitement of the protesters with a keen and raw gaze in this film, and the title of this film Que Sea Ley, meaning “Let the [abortion bill] be law,” becomes a strong slogan. The film was presented at a Special Screening at the Cannes Film Festival (KANG Sowon)

Jury Comments: This film unwaveringly pushes the issue of women’s rights and the abortion laws. It proposes that politics and religion should be separated not only for the Argentine women but also for the women worldwide. As the film ends, the audiences are able to realize that the modern perception toward the problem has just started.

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