Awards

38th Busan International Short Film Festival – Awards 2021

We present the list of winners of the 38th Busan International Short Film Festival which took take place from April 21st – 26th (2021) in Busan, Korea.

International Competition

Grand Prix

Bella by Thelyia Petraki – Greece | 2020 – 25 minutes

Greece 1986-1987, a little before the fall of State Socialism and just at the end of the Cold War. In front of Anthi’s eyes the country is changing, the world is changing and with them Christos seems to be changing too.​​ (BISFF 2021)

Jury Comments:
Based on a series of letters by the nonfictional character Anthi, the film reveals an intimate story about desire and change set to the background of Greece and the Soviet Union near the end of the cold war. The film seemingly breaks borders between fiction and documentary, making great effort to compose parts of the film as a found footage narrative. An engaging historical viewpoint that works in perfect symbiosis with the beautiful performance of the main actress who takes us inside the mind of a woman who is about to witness radical breakthrough.

Trailer:

Excellence Award

The Owl by Simon Pontén, Joakim Behrman – Sweden | 2020 – 8 minutes

The mood in a teacher’s lounge changes when the reason behind one teacher’s nickname is brought to light. A group has lost its balance and will do anything to regain stability. The Owl is a slow cataclysmic journey into the dark core of humans trying to have a good time together.​ (BISFF 2021)

Jury Comments:
In just 8 minutes this film shows us what the power of short films can be. The directors quickly establish a mood and suspense that, after it’s an apparent punchline, reveals a comical and poignant message about tolerance and peer pressure.

Trailer:

Jury Award

Al-Sit by Suzannah Mirghani – Sudan, Qatar | 2020 – 20 minutes

In a cotton-farming village in Sudan, 15-year-old Nafisa has a crush on Babiker, but her parents have arranged her marriage to Nadir, a young Sudanese businessman living abroad. Nafisa’s grandmother Al-Sit, the powerful village matriarch, has her own plans for Nafisa’s future. But can Nafisa choose for herself? (BISFF 2021)

Jury Comments:
A beautiful coming-of-age story that delicately shows the process of an individual who tries to stay true to herself amidst tradition and change. The jury was impressed by the film’s female perspective and cinematic ending sequence that is mystical, empowering and open.

Trailer:

Audience Award

Conversations at the End of Life by Fabienne Koch – Switzerland | 2020 – 18 minutes

How does one stand growing old? What sense does it make to keep living, when you can’t do anything anymore? Three old women answer my burning questions. A widow questions everything, a former dancer shows me what to do when you can’t dance anymore, and a nun explains to me what lies beyond. A personal quest to find out how to deal with the inevitable finiteness of life.​ (BISFF 2021)

Trailer:

Korean Competition

Grand Prix (KAFA Award)

Georgia by Jayil Pak – Korea, USA | 2020 – 30 minutes

When the police refuse to investigate their daughter’s alleged suicide, two computer-illiterate parents decide to design a protest banner. (Based on a true story)​ (BISFF 2021)

Jury Comments:
The strength of this drama lies in the way the story unfolds. The heavy topics of rape and suicide are depicted with a strong and assured cinematic hand. The complexity of the emotional situation is perfectly visualized by the impossibility to translate the feelings of the parent’s loss into words, which becomes clear at the end of the film. Empty spaces tell more than words. What is important here is to take action and not to remain silent. A strong call for justice, made bearable by using a touch of humor, which impressed the jury.

Trailer:

Excellence Award

Rats in the House by Hong Yeoni – Korea | 2020 – 19 minutes

Hanbin’s mother did not return home for a month. Rats begin to enter the house. They expand their territory from the kitchen to the living room, and eventually, spread all over the house. So, Hanbin lives in a room with her younger sister Hana, avoiding the rats.​ (BISFF 2021)

.Jury Comments:
This intriguing film portrays in a very naturalistic, almost documentary style, two children’s perspective who are left alone to deal with the absence of their mother, and the problems they have to face within the confined space of their house. The slightly surreal plot well correlates with childhood fears of hostile world in the absence of protection and safety. The beautiful and natural performance given by the two sisters convey their strong sense of sisterhood, which helps them to survive in the everyday life while chaos is luring all around them. The balanced counterpoint between the inner psychological world of the two girls and the reality of their out of control situation made a strong impression on the jury.

Jury Award

Blood Ties by Wang Heesong – Korea | 2020 – 29 minutes

Juhee has been sleeping in her car for 7 days to get away from her dad, who has become a zombie. A stranger named Haeji suddenly appears in front of Juhee, knocking on the window of her car. (BISFF 2021)

Jury Comments:
The Jury wants to acknowledge Blood Ties for its original take on the genre of Zombie movies. The film manages to smoothly combine different registers, from parody to tragedy, still carefully avoiding the ridiculous. The story plays with the clichés and expectations within the genre but gives them an unexpected twist. Lim Joowon’s acting navigates perfectly between the different moods and carries you through the story in a seamless way.

Best Acting Award

Haejun for God’s Daughter Dances (Byun Sungbin) – Korea | 2020 – 25 minutes

Shinmi is a transgender woman who works as a dancer. One day, Shinmi is contacted by the Military Manpower Administration ordering her to undergo a military service examination to join the military. (BISFF 2021)

Jury Comments:
The jury unanimously decided Haejun, the protagonist of God’s Daughter Dances, as the winner of the Best Acting Award. The film directed by Byun Sungbin, was “a work of performance art,” with its cheerful and gratifying depiction of a Korean transgender person. The performer, who is a dancer, is at the center of the entire performance. The jury sends their heartfelt congratulation and support to the performer.

Trailer:

Special Mention of the Jury

Snail by Kim Taeyang – Korea | 2020 – 20 minutes

After getting off the bus at the wrong stop, a guy walks along a familiar street. That night, he happens to walk along the same street again, but something has changed.​ (BISFF 2021)

Jury Comments:
This film stands out due to its original concept. Acting in documentary environment, constant feeling of inevitable passing of time, hidden backgrounds behind trivial conversation, fragility of our memories – these topics of the film attracted jury attention. Something in between of quantum indeterminacy and creativity, while at first sight it might look not that special.

Audience Award

We Bloom by Kim Yulhee – Korea | 2020 – 28 minutes

Sanghyeon spends every evening with Jeongwoo, who is blind. On a typical evening, while watching a movie, Jeongwoo asks Sanghyeon to describe a scene from the movie, which gives Sanghyeon the idea of writing a narration to explain the scenes. (BISFF 2021)

NETPAC Award

Georgia by Jayil Pak – Korea, USA | 2020 – 30 minutes

Jury Comments:
A powerful story about a poor family’s aspirations brought to a halt when their artistic daughter is gang-raped by some rich men. Their cry for justice seems to fall on deaf ears and their struggle is poetically represented by their search for an alphabetical equivalent in Korean for the font ‘Georgia’. Images containing dreams and traces of their daughters are the power to endure them and make the audience more sympathetic to the situation in the film. It shows the completeness of the story and the power of fantasy images.

Operation Kino

Grand Prix

Nowhere to Go by Lee Minho – Korea | 2021 – 14 minutes

The film imagines the different voices of each house in an abandoned village that is being demolished. (BISFF 2021)

Jury Comments:
In 2008, Dolsan Village (san 21-1) was the first village in Korea to be designated as a mural village. The film examines the current state of Dolsan Village, which was once a popular tourist destination. We can see and hear the life and memories that have vanished from the destroyed village. In the film, the city shines brightly beyond the gloomy village, which makes us feel the pull of civilization.

Excellence Award

Always by Choi Soyoon, Lee Goeun – Korea | 2021 – 12 minutes

“As the grandmother next door, I’ll work as long and as hard as I can.” Grandma Kim Kwangsoon has been greeting her neighbors from the same place for over 20 years. Her small stationery store of about 16m² is where children and adults of all ages come to bask in her love. (BISFF 2021)

Jury Comments:
The film delicately captures Kim Kwangsoon and her workplace. It shows that her 20 years of working have created a strong bond between her and the local residents. From her daily life, we can understand the importance of “not taking things for granted before they disappear.”

Agora Jury Award

Nowhere to Go by Lee Minho – Korea | 2021 – 14 minutes

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