20 Asian films you shouldn’t miss at the 25th Busan International Film Festival (Part 1)

These are twenty Asian films you shouldn’t miss at the 25th Busan International Film Festival which will take place from October 21st – 30th (2020) 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.

Selected Films:

A Balance by Harumoto Yujiro – Japan | 2020 – 153 minutes
Section: New Currents

Documentary director Yuko portrays a school violence incident from three years ago that resulted in suicides, while she was teaching classes at her father’s cram school. As her documentary project progresses, Yuko discovers a hidden truth and becomes deeply involved in the lives of the families pained by that secret truth. She learns that her friend-like father Masashi, a beloved teacher has committed a fatal mistake and experiences a shock that upends her life. Harumoto Yujiro wrote, directed, produced, and edited his second feature A Balance, firmly building up Yuko’s dilemma with a calm and objective perspective. His directing particularly shines while interweaving a narrative with a delicate inside look at an individual’s mind and a keen sense of social awareness. (Park Sun Young)

Screening Date:
October 25th, 2020 (Sunday) | Busan Cinema Center Cinema 2 | 12:30 pm


All the things we never said by Ishii Yuya – Japan | 2020 – 92 minutes
Section: Kim Jiseok Award Nominated Film | International Premiere

Atsuhisa is an ordinary man living with his wife Natsumi and a five-year-old daughter Suzu. Atsuhisa and Natsumi have been friends with Takeda since high school. Once dreamed of becoming singers, Takeda and Atsuhisa are now taking Chinese and English lessons, hoping to become businessmen one day. One day, Astuhisa discovers that Natsumi is having an affair, and Natsumi asks Atsuhisa for a divorce. All the Things We Never Said is the first of the six low-budget films from the Hong Kong International Film Festival’s Back to Basics (B2B) project. Director Ishii Yuya paints a portrait of disjointed and helpless yet unhateable youth who have bottled-up resentment that needs to be released. Director Park Jong-beom makes an appearance as Atsuhisa’s older brother. (Park Sun Young)

Screening Date:
October 22nd, 2020 (Thursday) | Busan Cinema Center Cinema 2 | 20:30 pm


Butterfly on the windowpane by Sujit Bidari – Nepal | 2020 – 96 minutes
Section: New Currents | World Premiere

Clever and ambitious Bidya is a thirteen-year-old girl from a rural village in Nepal. She has a gambler for a father, a troublemaker brother named Basanta, and a mother who is determined to provide her a better life. She desperately longs to get away from the stuffy, conservative village and go to a city, where she could write poems and further her studies. Unfortunately, unexpected situations continue to derail her dream. A debut feature written and directed by Nepalese independent filmmaker Sujit Bidari, Butterfly on the Windowpane follows the changes that Bidya undergoes through the eyes of Basanta with a stable narrative and warm colors. It is also the story of Basanta, who grows with his sister’s failure and frustration. (Park Sun Young)

Screening Date:
October 26th, 2020 (Monday) | Busan Cinema Center Cinema 2 | 20:00 pm


Cleaners by Karl Glenn Barit – Philippines | 2019 – 79 minutes
Section: A Window on Asian Cinema | International Premiere

High school students in their prime time are forced to grow up pure, honest, and sexually upright in Catholic high schools. Hypocritically, however, they spend time knowing that the reality they will face is not so. Several large and small incidents, such as a friend who made a mistake with feces during a performance, a situation in which he has no choice but to hang out with bad friends, and a boy who wants to prove his masculinity, are put with a stop motion technique that is partially colored one by one in 30,000 originals photographed in black and white. Director Karl Glenn Barit has won at several film festivals for his short films dealing with migrant workers, the socially underprivileged or marginalized people left outside of a big city. Cleaners is his first feature film. (Park Sungho)

Screening Date:
October 21st, 2020 (Wednesday) | Busan Cinema Center Cinema 2 | 10:00 am


Days by Tsai Ming-Liang – Taiwan | 2020 – 127 minutes
Section: Icons

Lee Kang-Sheng’s breath taking acting, depicting a gaze that seems to be transcendent, and the long tempoed directing that captures this signify the world of Tsai Ming-Liang’s that has become more intense and mature. The daily life of a middle-aged man and a young man intersects. The film doesn’t explain directly what caused them to be hurt and broken. However, there are expressions and gestures that make it possible to imagine the deep stories of each under the weight of time in a lonely space. The film contains healing, or the process of attempting healing. Of course, the wounds of the aged soul and body are not easily healed. Can a young man say goodbye to the regretful past of a middle-aged man? From his eyes about to burst into tears, Lee Kang-Sheng’s facial expression reveals ironic beauty. (Park Sungho)

Screening Date:
October 27th, 2020 (Tuesday) | Busan Cinema Center Cinema 2 | 16:00 pm


Death of Nintendo by Raya Martin – Philippines, US | 2020 – 99 minutes
Section: A Window on Asian Cinema

In the summer of 1991, Paolo, a 13-year-old boy with an overprotective mother, cannot play video games any more due to a nationwide blackout following a series of earthquakes. He and his friends wandering the streets with nothing to do, are beaten by the US military and decide to circumcise to prove that they are grown up too. To spend time with a girl in the neighborhood that he is fond of, he plans on going to a ghost-catching trip despite the opposition of his mother. Director Raya Martin’s previous shorts and feature films have been invited to prestige festivals such as Cannes and won awards. His latest feature film Death of Nintendo has a very personal touch, yet contains social messages. (Park Sungho)

Screening Date:
October 27th, 2020 (Tuesday) | Busan Cinema Center Haneulyeon Theater | 9:30 am


Fear(less) and Dear by Anson Hoi Shan Mak – Hong Kong | 2020 – 106 minutes
Section: Documentary Competition | World Premiere

A woman is giving a performance titled “Egging, with 1,000 eggs” in a plaza. This performance of breaking eggs on her own body doesn’t seem to attract people’s attention for long. However, when the phrase “help the future generation to throw eggs at myself for my inability to protect our home” is raised, the true meaning of the performance arises. Director Mak depicts the anxieties and fears that the people are experiencing in this period of political turmoil in Hong Kong. The Umbrella Revolution, the Extradition Bill Protest, the COVID-19 Pandemic, art, parenting, and the hopes and fears of people in Hong Kong are interestingly reflected through characters in the film. Fear(less) and Dear is a private, yet social, essay film that adopted an unconventional experimental form. (Kang Sowon)

Screening Date:
October 22nd, 2020 (Thursday) | Busan Cinema Center Cinema 2 | 17:00 pm


Happy Old Year by Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit – Thailand | 2019 – 113 min.
Section: A Window on Asian Cinema

Jean returns to Thailand after studying interior design in Sweden. Being a minimalist, she plans to disposes of needless stuff and turn her house into a studio. Despite the emotional conflict with her family and friends, Jean tries to throw away everything, but suddenly she changes her mind and brings back the stuff she dumped. The movie unfolds under the ‘KonMari Method’, which says to throw away things that do not make us flutter, but eventually it reminds us of relationships with people and objects. Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, a regular at BIFF who has previously won the New Currents Award for 36, directed the film. Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying who played a genius girl in Bad Genius provides an impressive performance as Jean. (Boo Kyunghwan)

Screening Date:
October 30th, 2020 (Friday) | Busan Cinema Center Haneulyeon Theater | 20:00 pm


Hong Kong Moments by Zhou Bing – China, Germany | 2019 – 96 minutes
Section: Documentary Showcase

The Hong Kong crisis that emerged last year when the government of Hong Kong proposed the “Extradition Bill” continued to draw global attention. Many people came out to the streets to protest a bill that provides a mechanism for the forcible repatriation of Chinese dissidents who have migrated to Hong Kong. In response to the excessive use of force by the police, the protesters were also gaining violence in their actions. The bill was eventually withdrawn on 4 September, but the protests, which entailed history, economic recession, generational conflict, and anti-China sentiment, have not been mitigated. Hong Kong Moments focuses on events after 4 September, looking into the confusion that people experienced. (Hong Eunmi)

Screening Date:
October 27th, 2020 (Tuesday) | Busan Cinema Center Cinema 2 | 9:30 am


Irradiated by Rithy Panh – France, Cambodia | 2020 – 89 minutes
Section: Documentary Showcase

Irradiated is a new film of director Panh, who has recorded the history of atrocious violence, especially the memory of massacres through his previous works such as S21: The Khmer Rouge Death Machine (2003) and The Missing Picture (2013). In this piece, the director captures the spread of evil, as radioactivity spreads, utilizing various types of footage and performance images. While the tragic moments of modern history including wars, the atomic bombing, the massacre of civilians, and fascism constantly appear on screen, the low-pitched narration mourns the deceased and worries about the future of generations to come. (Kim Bo-nyun)

Screening Date:
October 29th, 2020 (Thursday) | Busan Cinema Center Cinema 2 | 16:30 pm


To see the 2nd part of this article please go HERE:

This year we are recommending 12 Shorts, 20 Asian and 20 Korea films for you to watch at the Busan 2020. Please visit our special section to know about our recommendations:

For more information about the festival and the programme please visit the festival’s website here:

Categories: News

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