BIFF organizers clash over festival expansion

Posted on : 2011-10-19 14:28 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Disagreement has sharpened as rushed construction led to leaks and poor facilities

By Song Ho-jin 


“It started with Oh In-hye’s revealing outfit and ended with an embarrassing leak.”

This was the curt assessment offered by a film company president on the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), which wrapped up last Friday. The subject of the lament was a variety of construction problems, including leaking rainwater on the last day at the exclusive theater Busan Cinema Center in Busan’s Haeundae neighborhood, which poured cold water, so to speak, on the 2011 festival’s fine selection of films.

The theater in question, which drew attention for having the world’s largest roof and for its massive scale, has recently been suffering the aftereffects of the film festival. Due to its rushed opening without any permit inspection, the city of Busan launched an additional repair effort after the festival ended. The schedule for a commemorative event that was to see the screening of around 200 films from next month through the end of the year is also being reexamined. For that period, the BIFF secretariat had initially been planning to show a selection of around 100 films that changed film history.

The city said a decision would soon be made on whether the construction effort and screening would be taking place simultaneously or whether the construction would be finished by the end of the year and the event put off until 2012.

Also casting a pall over the opening of Asia’s first exclusive festival theater were the frictions that arose during the event period among the city, the theater’s foundation, the BIFF secretariat, and Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction (HHIC), which handled the construction effort. Arguments erupted from all corners over the posting of notices at the theater, with the foundation arguing that this marred the view and the secretary citing complaints about inadequate guidance.

Lee Yong-kwan, the head of the festival’s executive committee, said, “I am even left wondering whether there will be any meaning in holding the film festival here next year if the management communication problems with the theater foundation are not resolved.”

The secretariat is currently planning a year-round program screening Korean and foreign independent and art films at the Busan Cinema Center beginning next year. Film professionals complained that all the focus on quantitative expansion left the festival to take place in a building without any restaurants where visitors could eat.

The head of one film production company said, “The city of Busan should have made the decision to forgo the PR temptation and put off opening the theater as the construction kept going over schedule, and the festival secretary should have actively broached the issue to allay concerns.”

The home page for the leaky Busan Cinema Center is also down at the moment. It, too, is “under construction.”


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