Since its birth 100 years ago, Korean cinema has accomplished much, gaining not only international interest, but also praise and admiration. No one can deny the international caliber of Korean films today; and all speak of its optimistic prospects ahead. However, the advancement of Korean cinema is not a simple matter of course, like seasons that come and go. Instead, it is only made possible through sweat and hard work, just like those of a farmer preparing for each season. Above all, the advancement of Korean cinema is possible through the growth of short films, its groundwork. For these reasons, the role of short film festivals is also augmented as arenas for development. The Busan International Short Film Festival contributes to the continued prosperity and advancement of Korean cinema by strengthening the unique identity of short films.
Particular efforts were made to promote the reputation of the festival abroad by joining and developing various international networks: the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars®, the NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asia Pacific Cinema), and the Short Film Conference, a non-profit association gathering international festivals, distributors and platforms dedicated to short films. Above all, through BISFF’s activities, we are striving to build trust and to foster contacts with filmmakers as well as with the larger film industry. Program exchanges with the Kaohsiung Film Festival in Taiwan, the Copenhagen Short Film Festival in Denmark, the Saguenay International Short Film Festival in Canada and the Sao Paulo International Short Film Festival in Brazil, allowed Korean films that were screened or awarded at BISFF to reach international audiences. In addition to festivals, international organizations such as Swiss Films and German Films have also become official BISFF partners, providing funding for directors and producers of these countries to participate in our film festival, if selected.
BISFF’s program is organized around a theme emphasizing the future direction of short films and of the film festival. The theme for our 2020 edition is: “Pushing Boundaries of Cinema”, emphasizing notions of “experiment” and “innovation”. Just as the short film is characterized by originality and diversity, the program as a whole was reorganized: it demonstrates the unique characteristics of BISFF, which adapts to the changing global trends with existing programs being changed and new programs being added.
The first major change concerns Asian films, with the existing “Hub of Asia” program turned into an independent section to better spotlighting films from that region. The second change was to transform and expand the “Prism” program by including it in a new section, “Beyond Shorts”, which encompasses a larger variety of creative formats, including experimental films and interactive films. The third change is the strengthening of programs related to Busan, where our festival is held. We moved “Operation Kino”, made for university’s students in the Busan area, to the Competition section, thus giving it more merit. We also created the “Busan IN” program which showcases various films created by Busan residents. This way, all inhabitants of our city, whether they are film professionals, film majors, or amateur filmmakers, can now have a greater opportunity to participate directly in our festival.
Meanwhile, some successful programs will proceed as in the past. Films with a strong experimental spirit and originality have been selected for Competition after going through three separate preliminaries. During the festival, they will be strictly judged by Korean and international jurors. Another one of BISFF’s main programs is the “Guest Country” section, which this year will showcase Europe’s film powerhouse Belgium. It will provide an opportunity to watch short films by leading Belgian cineaste Chantal Akerman and learn about this country's history, culture and people through its cinema.
A heartfelt thanks goes out for your interest in short films despite the unprecedented crisis of COVID-19. We hope BISFF affords you the opportunity to discover the unique beauty and charm of short films.