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10 Documentaries you shouldn’t miss at the 26th Busan International Film Festival

These are ten documentaries you shouldn’t miss at the 26th Busan International Film Festival which will take place from October 6th – 15th, 2021 in Busan, Korea.

– Selected Docs –

206: Unearthed by Heo Chul-nyung – Korea, Thailand | 2021 – 93 minutes
Section: Wide Angle, Documentary Competition | World Premiere

After the dissolution of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was launched as a South Korean government organization in 2005, civic groups and bereaved families wishing to complete the mission the government had failed to accomplish form a joint organization to investigate the remains of civilians who were massacred during the Korean War. A three-year-long documentary about the organization′s three-year-long excavation efforts, 206: Unearthed is a record of sunlight, dirt, and sweat. The film begins with the director′s letter to his grandmother, who waited for her husband to return after he was taken by the police during the Korean War. She has been waiting for 70 years, as neither he nor his remains returned home. And so the director′s long journey began, and there is no end in sight. “We don’t forget”—the film ends with a line from Barthes′ Mourning Diary, dedicated to a picture of the excavated remains and the grandmother′s obituary. This is a documentary that witnesses the wounds of history and a director′s mourning diary. (KANG Sowon – BIFF 2021)

*This documentary received the 2018 AND BIFF Mercenat Fund*

Screening Dates:
October 8th, 2021 | Friday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 5 | 15:00 pm
October 10th, 2021 | Sunday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 5 | 12:30 pm
October 11th, 2021 | Monday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 10 | 12:00 pm

Crossing′s End by Shin Yu-Lun – Taiwan | 2021 – 116 minutes
Section: Wide Angle, Documentary Competition | World Premiere

On a winter night in 2002, a couple in their early 20s is breaking up atop a bridge, when the woman falls down. Is it a suicide or accidental death? The man asks a friend to call an ambulance, but the woman dies. The man and his friend are imprisoned for murder when an eyewitness reverses his original statement and says that he saw the two men throwing the woman from the bridge. After more than a decade, director Shih Yu-Lun collaborates with the ‘Taiwan Innocence Project’, a non-profit organization that helps innocent people who have been unjustly convicted, to re-investigate the case. While the film depicts the activities of the Taiwan Innocence Project, director Shih Yu-Lun′s main focus is on the story of two innocent young men and their families. A powerful, solid story that maintains a credible gaze and a consistently calm tone without any emotional rush. (KANG Sowon – BIFF 2021)

Screening Dates:
October 9th, 2021 | Sunday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 5 | 16:30 pm
October 11th, 2021 | Monday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 5 | 20:00 pm
October 13th, 2021 | Wednesday | Busan Cinema Center Cinematheque | 20:00 pm

Trailer:

Faceless by Jennifer Ngo – Hong Kong, China, USA | 2021 – 83 minutes
Section: Wide Angle, Documentary Showcase

In 2019, the world watched from afar as people of Hong Kong took to the streets. Scenes of protests captured by drones. An unimaginable number of two million protesters. As firebombs and police batons fly, the city is turned into a battlefield. Faceless shows the details of 2019 Hong Kong protests that we have not seen before. It tells the behind-the-scene stories, focusing on the portraits of four Hong Kong youths: a high school student who became an ardent activist against the wishes of his parents, a queer artist who turns propaganda into street art, a girl who becomes an enemy to her police officer father, and a devout Christian who dreams of nonviolent struggle. Covering their faces with masks and gas masks, they represent the anger, devotion, dreams, and desires of the two million Hong Kongers. The camera stays in the streets alongside the faceless and nameless people in this passionate, desperate, and painful film. (KANG Sowon | BIFF 2021)

Screening Dates:
October 10th, 2021 | Sunday | CGV Centum City 1 | 16:30 pm
October 13th, 2021 | Wednesday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 2 | 14:00 pm
October 14th, 2021 | Thursday | Busan Cinema Center Cinema 2 | 16:00 pm

Trailer:

Fanatic by Oh Seyeon – Korea | 2021 – 87 minutes
Section: Wide Angle, Documentary Competition | World Premiere

A teenage girl who appears on a TV show as an idol singer′s fan calls herself a ′seongdeok′ (successful fan), because her idol appeared on the same program. Years later, the same idol singer is arrested on charges of gang rape and illegally filming and distributing sex tapes. The seongdeok, who has suddenly become a criminal′s fan, decides to meet with other fans of the criminal singer in a confused state of anger and sadness. Fanatic begins with director Oh Seyeon′s own embarrassing past. The situation is funny but also unlaughable. After meeting with other fans in the same situation as herself, who are “suffering more because they′d loved,” she eventually reaches the far-right Taegeukgi rally participants in front of Seoul Station, holding protests for the release of former president Park Geun-hye. An embarrassingly direct, poignant, and frankly introspective documentary full of profanity, this film is, above all, clever. (KANG Sowon – BIFF 2021)

Screening Dates:
October 9th, 2021 | Saturday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 5 | 19:30 pm
October 11th, 2021 | Monday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 3 | 13:30 pm
October 13th, 2021 | Saturday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 5 | 17:30 pm

Trailer:

I am More by Lee Ilha – Korea | 2021 – 81 minutes
Section: Wide Angle, Documentary Showcase

Night falls on the city, and More’s splendid and daring show begins. More, a drag queen at a club in Itaewon, Seoul, is a transgender who wanted to become a ballerina. The audience cheers, but More is fed up with the gig he/she has been doing for 20 years. Around that time, he/she is cast for the “Stonewall Riots 50th Anniversary” performance in New York and finally get a chance to go on stage in toe shoes. I am More immediately grabs our attention from the opening. The haracter is strong, and the film is powerful. In the film, More often performs in a space that traverses reality and fantasy, boasting feather-like eyelashes. For More, who props up his/her tottering ego and shouts “I am More!” to the world, director Lee Ilha provides an immeasurably vast stage compared to the Stonewall stage. An outstanding biopic and musical documentary with a style befitting its main character. (KANG Sowon – BIFF 2021)

*This documentary received the 2019 AND BIFF Mercenat Fund*

Screening Dates:
October 9th, 2021 | Saturday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 4 | 16:00 pm
October 10th, 2021 | Sunday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 2| 13:30 pm
October 14th, 2021 | Thursday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 5 | 20:30 pm

Trailer:

Ladies Only by Rebana Liz John – Germany, India | 2021 – 82 minutes
Section: Wide Angle, Documentary Competition | World Premiere

During the morning commute, trains in Mumbai, India, are like trains from hell. As if they’re the last trains on earth, hordes of people jump in through the closing doors, while those unable to get in hang onto the doors. Thankfully, one of the cars is for women only—it is another India within India, a micro universe of women. Rebana Liz John takes her camera into this car and asks the passengers: “What makes you angry?” Various women, including a housewife, a punk girl, a weightlifter, and a college student, unravel their thoughts on their dreams and freedom. As the voices of urban Indian women vividly come alive in this black-and-white film, light and shadow, noises and movements, breezes and landscape made by the speedily moving train combine with everchanging faces, creating unexpected cinematic moments that almost seem to have been directed. (KANG Sowon – BIFF 2021)

Screening Dates:
October 9th, 2021 | Saturday | CGV Centum City 6 | 17:00 pm
October 10th, 2021 | Sunday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 5 | 19:30 pm
October 12th, 2021 | Tuesday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 10 | 15:30 pm

Trailer:

Map Without Island by Sungeun Kim – Korea | 2021 – 92 minutes
Section: Wide Angle, Documentary Showcase | World Premiere

This film is a documentary that talks about free yet strong love. It is a story of people who are, with sad history in their minds, earnestly trying to preserve the land of Jeju Island that is being destroyed by numerous developments and national projects. It is a story of people who are desperately engaging in social movements in order to make society better. Their nationalities, backgrounds, and occupations are all different. They are referred to by different names: natives, strangers, or environmentalists. They, however, share the ideal that they have to coexist with nature and respect each other as they are. The film shows demonstrations against building the second airport in Jeju Island the performances of environmentalists very closely and in detail, by which it develops a desperate love story. (HONG Eunmi – BIFF 2021)

Screening Dates:
October 10th, 2021 | Sunday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 3 | 20:00 pm
October 11th, 2021 | Monday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 2 | 13:30 pm
October 14th, 2021 | Thursday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 10 | 20:30 pm

Trailer:

Rain in 2020 by Lee Yong Chao – Taiwan, Myanmar | 2021 – 79 minutes
Section: Wide Angle, Documentary Showcase

RAIN IN 2020 is a seven-year documentary about the struggles of Ah-Tian, a young jade miner in Myanmar, and his family. There are three things that make life difficult for Ah-Tian, who is also director Lee Yong Chao′s younger brother: the torrential rain that turns his house into a mud bath every rainy season, the landslide that killed hundreds of miners, and coronavirus. In a situation where survival, let alone a stable daily life, is not guaranteed, the family often looks exhausted, and in those moments the director has brief yet meaningful conversations with his brother, mother, and young nephews about the power of capital working secretly or overtly underneath this frustrating reality. In the end, the audience comes to perceive a system of exploitation that operates on a national level through the daily life of a single family. The final scene sends a chill down your spine. (KIM Bo-nyun – BIFF 2021)

Screening Dates:
October 8th, 2021 | Friday | CGV Centum City 1 | 20:30 pm
October 9th, 2021 | Saturday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 9 | 16:30 pm
October 12th, 2021 | Tuesday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 2 | 14:00 pm

Trailer:

Steel Boat by Kim Jigon – Korea | 2021 – 76 minutes
Section: Wide Angle, Documentary Showcase | World Premiere

By the Gyeongho river in Sancheong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do Province, is located Sungsim-won where the patients of Hansen’s disease stay. It was built with the money raised from selling the relief supplies after the Korean War and has been precious home to many Hansen patients. Until Sungsim bridge was constructed over the Gyeongho river, the only vehicle that connected them with the outside world was a steel boat. Currently this small steel boat rests in Sungsim-won bearing the shadow of the painful time in the past. Director Kim Jigon, commissioned to make a video footage commemorating the 60th anniversary of Sungsim-won, visited there for the first time and has paid earnest effort to closely portray the place for the last three years. This film is an innocent and impressive documentary that would resonate deep in your heart with the numbing and shining moments of Sungsim-won people and the magnificent images that are brought by utmost care. (HONG Eunmi – BIFF 2021)

Screening Dates:
October 8th, 2021 | Friday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 3 | 13:00 pm
October 10th, 2021 | Sunday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 2 | 17:00 pm
October 12th, 2021 | Tuesday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 10 | 19:00 pm

Trailer:

Taste of Wild Tomato by Lau Kek-Huat – Taiwan | 2021 – 124 minutes
Section: Wide Angle, Documentary Competition | World Premiere

Kaohsiung, Taiwan, is one of the areas that suffered the most from the February 28 incident in 1947. After the uprising against discrimination and the oppression of the Kuomintang ended with a disastrous massacre, people were banned from talking about the February 28 incident in Taiwan for 40 years. As soon as the martial law was lifted, director Hou Hsiao-Hsien was the first to inform the world of the incident through A City of Sadness(1989). More than 30 years later, director Lau Kek-Huat recalls the collective memories of the people of Kaohsiung about the February 28 incident. Taste of Wild Tomato begins with the history of Kaohsiung, which was an important military base for the Japanese army during the Japanese occupation, and tends to the deep scars of the survivors, their descendants, and their descendants’ descendants. The memories of the incident are everywhere like wild tomatoes in Kaohsiung, and the director traverses those spaces and memories with wide strides and a supple gait. (KANG Sowon – BIFF 2021)

Screening Dates:
October 9th, 2021 | Saturday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 9 | 13:00 pm
October 11th, 2021 | Monday | Lotte Cinema Centum City 5 | 10:00 am
October 12th, 2021 | Tuesday | Busan Cinema Center Cinematheque | 19:00 pm

Trailer:

For more information please visit: https://www.biff.kr/eng

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