The art form of film, which originated in 1895, is currently at a crossroads. Of course, not just the film industry, but the entire world is undergoing unprecedented changes. As in a science fiction film, the COVID-19 pandemic has vividly recreated a dystopian world for us. Last year, we struggled, tried not to accept reality, and wished for normalcy to be restored. Even though the new year has arrived, things do not seem to have improved. We must embrace and live with this harsh reality. Our society has shifted to prioritize saving and preserving people's lives. This means that intangible values, such as art and culture, are taken relatively lightly and placed far down the list of individual, societal, and national priorities.
Cinema is experiencing major changes, since it is the art form that has the closest relationship with the public. Film festivals, in particular, which is how audiences interact with films, have been hit the hardest by the transition. The fear of mingling with strangers and being infected by them has resulted in films being watched primarily in private. It has also shifted the screening location from a public venue, like a theater, to a private one, such as one's home. Some members of the international film community have spoken out about the crisis that films and film festivals are currently facing. Last year, Busan International Short Film Festival (BISFF) had to be postponed from April to August and switch from offline to online screening due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Therefore, BISFF has chosen the theme “A State of Exception” for this year's festival, considering the current issues with COVID-19 in relation to films and after agonizing over which direction the festival should be directed. The theme will help show us how the unprecedented situation has affected cinema, as well as how cinema has responded to it. We believe the theme “A State of Exception” should highlight the strengths of short films, which can directly and contemporaneously embrace our new reality as they change as a result of the COVID-19. We'll also be able to see how filmmaking has changed as a result of the exceptional circumstances with more immediacy.
This year, a new section dedicated to Korean short films will be launched. Last year, the festival pioneered the “Busan IN” program to support films made by residents of Busan and now the new “Korean Shorts” section in this year's BISFF will serve as the festival's foundation for showcasing Korean short films in the future. The “3D Shorts” program has also been added to the “Beyond Shorts” section, which will feature films made in new formats. Furthermore, BISFF intends to enhance the quality of current sections including the “Guest Country” section and the “Hub of Asia” section.
Everyone is suffering as a result of COVID-19, but we hope to see film fans in the theaters, particularly those who love and support short films. We sincerely wish for you to discover the unique charm that short films possess at BISFF.