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Busan navigates shifting sands

While the Busan festival continues to struggle with the fallout from its decision last year to screen doco The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol, which the city’s mayor Suh Byung-soo demanded the festival withdraw, the event’s industry programmes are moving forward with some NZ involvement already confirmed.

The Storm Makers

Guillaume Suon’s 2014 Busan-winning doco The Storm Makers

Screen Auckland’s Michael Brook, a regular attendee at Busan, will this year moderate a BIFCOM panel on new technology impacting the screen industries. Brook will also wear his AFC Net board member hat (as he did at Hong Kong’s Filmart in March) to promote the regional body’s screen attraction work and, of course, fly the flag for Auckland’s industry.

A recent decision by NZFC-equivalent agency KOFIC to halve the festival’s funding this year has done absolutely nothing to quell claims of political pressure and interference with the festival’s right to make is own programming decisions, but – while the scale of the festival programme might diminish – there’s been little evidence of the disagreement affecting the industry-focused programmes.

The festival also runs the Asian Film Market (AFM), Asian Project Market (APM), Asian Film Academy (AFA), Asian Cinema Fund (ACF) and BIFF Conference & Forum (BIFCOM). Earlier this week it also announced an Entertainment Intellectual Property Market (EIPM) to run alongside other events.

Variety first reported the EIPM event, which will include an open pitch, book-to-film pitch, a sales markets and conference sessions.

Hong Kong has a much broader licensing event in January, comprising a conference, market and toy and games fair, which between them offer a substantial amount of Asia-originated entertainment brands and properties.

In its inaugural edition the EIPM will offer Korean projects only, before expanding to include fare from elsewhere. As no further detail has yet been released it’s unclear what will help to differentiate the EIPM from the Asian Project Market, which has itself broadened its selection criteria in recent years.

Last year, 12 of the 30 APM projects selected were from, or included production partners from, beyond Asia. Among those was Korea-NZ project Pokarekare Ana: Yeon-Ga from SONG Ilgon and Michael Bennett, which Catherine Fitzgerald will produce.

APM has a decent track record, having presented KAWASE Naomi’s AN, which played in this year’s Un Certain Regard selection; Chang Tso Chi’s Berlin-premiered Thanatos, Drunk, which took six awards at the Taipei Film Festival last weekend; Venice winners Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere (2014) and Stray Dogs (2013); BONG Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer; and the only Indonesian title apart from The Raid to make a splash internationally in recent years, Mouly Surya’s 2013 What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love.

The Asian Cinema Fund announced the 2015 beneficiaries of its support earlier this month, including Shahrbanoo SADAT’s The Orphanage, produced by Katja Adomeit (Daniel Joseph Borgman’s The Weight of Elephants). Earlier this year The Orphanage (then travelling as Wolf and Sheep) won the HK$50,000 Wouter Barendrecht Award at Hong Kong’s HAF project market.

The free trade agreement between Korea and New Zealand, signed in March this year, effectively extends the 2008 film co-production treaty to include television productions. While a small number of Korean dramas have shot in NZ, there’s considerable potential for more.

This year’s Busan IFF runs 1 – 1- October; Asian Film Market (AFM) and and Entertainment Intellectual Property Market (EIPM) 3 – 6 October; Asian Project Market (APM) 4 – 6 October; and BIFF Conference & Forum (BIFCOM) 8 -10 October.

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