2021 Busan International Short Film Festival Awards Announced
The 39 films selected for this year¡¯s International Competition showed us a rich variety of stories, points of view and ways of dealing with cinema. We will remember it as a very diverse and inclusive program. We would like to thank all the participating directors for their courage and imagination that allowed us to travel the world in a time when a pandemic is forcing us to stay put.
Bella by Thelyia Petraki
Based on a series of letters by the nonfictional character Anthi, the film reveals an intimate story about desire and change set to the background of Greece and the Soviet Union near the end of the cold war. The film seemingly breaks borders between fiction and documentary, making great effort to compose parts of the film as a found footage narrative. An engaging historical viewpoint that works in perfect symbiosis with the beautiful performance of the main actress who takes us inside the mind of a woman who is about to witness radical breakthrough.
The Owl by Simon Pontén, Joakim Behrman
In just 8 minutes this film shows us what the power of short films can be. The directors quickly establish a mood and suspense that, after it's an apparent punchline, reveals a comical and poignant message about tolerance and peer pressure.
Al-Sit by Suzannah Mirghani
A beautiful coming-of-age story that delicately shows the process of an individual who tries to stay true to herself amidst tradition and change. The jury was impressed by the film's female perspective and cinematic ending sequence that is mystical, empowering and open.
Conversations at the End of Life by Fabienne Koch
This year, 20 films were shortlisted in the Korean Competition of the 38th Busan International Short Film Festival.
The Korean Competition section contains animations with exceptional imagination, genre films with high quality, and familiar dramas with new cinematic moods and the power of short films. Three jury members from the Netherlands, Lithuania, and Korea were pleased with the opportunity to witness various contemporary Korean shorts and had a candid discussion on each other¡¯s intriguing discovery.
There are faces of children who are neglected from society but still comfort each other, women and minorities who still undergo various kinds of violence, and their families who suffer from hurt and pain. They go through the sweltering heat, the spread of the virus, and the various times of life. They struggle to survive the hopeless despair with the power of love, friendship, and humor. All kinds of drama deeply rooted in life were very impressive.
The jury paid attention to films that refused any early prediction and built their own dramas within the brevity of short films. Sending our sincere congratulations to the winners, the jury wants to express their love and support to every film in the section. In the global pandemic situation, the jury had to meet online, not in the physical festival. However, nothing, even the pandemic, could stop the jury from having a passionate discussion on films. In this regard, the jury is deeply grateful for this precious opportunity.
[Grand Prix (KAFA Award)]
Georgia by Jayil Pak
The strength of this drama lies in the way the story unfolds. The heavy topics of rape and suicide are depicted with a strong and assured cinematic hand. The complexity of the emotional situation is perfectly visualized by the impossibility to translate the feelings of the parent¡¯s loss into words, which becomes clear at the end of the film. Empty spaces tell more than words. What is important here is to take action and not to remain silent. A strong call for justice, made bearable by using a touch of humor, which impressed the jury.
Rats in the House by Hong Yeoni
This intriguing film portrays in a very naturalistic, almost documentary style, two children¡¯s perspective who are left alone to deal with the absence of their mother, and the problems they have to face within the confined space of their house. The slightly surreal plot well correlates with childhood fears of hostile world in the absence of protection and safety. The beautiful and natural performance given by the two sisters convey their strong sense of sisterhood, which helps them to survive in the everyday life while chaos is luring all around them. The balanced counterpoint between the inner psychological world of the two girls and the reality of their out of control situation made a strong impression on the jury.
Blood Ties by Wang Heesong
The Jury wants to acknowledge Blood Ties for its original take on the genre of Zombie movies. The film manages to smoothly combine different registers, from parody to tragedy, still carefully avoiding the ridiculous. The story plays with the clichés and expectations within the genre but gives them an unexpected twist. Lim Joowon¡¯s acting navigates perfectly between the different moods and carries you through the story in a seamless way.
[Best Acting Award]
God's Daughter Dances Haejun
The jury unanimously decided Haejun, the protagonist of God's Daughter Dances, as the winner of the Best Acting Award. The film directed by Byun Sungbin, was ¡°a work of performance art,¡± with its cheerful and gratifying depiction of a Korean transgender person. The performer, who is a dancer, is at the center of the entire performance. The jury sends their heartfelt congratulation and support to the performer.
[Special Mention of the Jury]
Snail by Kim Taeyang
This film stands out due to its original concept. Acting in documentary environment, constant feeling of inevitable passing of time, hidden backgrounds behind trivial conversation, fragility of our memories - these topics of the film attracted jury attention. Something in between of quantum indeterminacy and creativity, while at first sight it might look not that special.
We Bloom by Kim Yulhee
Most of the films in the Korean and International sections were rooted in their socio-cultural environs and expressing a deep human concern for a wide range of issues, from gang rape to parenting problems, from new-age romantic tangles to funeral rituals. One of them was even an interesting attempt at animation. Most of them used modern digital technology to produce works which were equally proficient at a technical standard
While trying to assess the level of proficiency and excellence, the ability to script and tell a good story tops the priority. A good story gets better when the formal concerns of composition, color, lighting and editing are given due attention. And then it becomes the best when it manages to tug at our hearts and make the audience feel that ¡®wow¡¯ experience!
This is not about good or bad films. For a film to be judged in a competition section, it must show promise of how much the filmmaker is willing to push his or her societal concerns to the cinematic edge. They must communicate with the creative possibilities of the film language and use cinema to mobilize social change.
Georgia by Jayil Pak
A powerful story about a poor family¡¯s aspirations brought to a halt when their artistic daughter is gang-raped by some rich men. Their cry for justice seems to fall on deaf ears and their struggle is poetically represented by their search for an alphabetical equivalent in Korean for the font ¡®Georgia¡¯. Images containing dreams and traces of their daughters are the power to endure them and make the audience more sympathetic to the situation in the film. It shows the completeness of the story and the power of fantasy images.
Through the six films screened in the Operation Kino section, we were able to see how people's lives and spaces have changed in the present. It was notable that each film attempted to express its own theme in a consistent manner within a limited production schedule. Although the various topics examined were different, the stories were told in a similar way.
Nowhere to Go by Lee Minho
In 2008, Dolsan Village (san 21-1) was the first village in Korea to be designated as a mural village. The film examines the current state of Dolsan Village, which was once a popular tourist destination. We can see and hear the life and memories that have vanished from the destroyed village. In the film, the city shines brightly beyond the gloomy village, which makes us feel the pull of civilization.
Always by Choi Soyoon, Lee Goeun
The film delicately captures Kim Kwangsoon and her workplace. It shows that her 20 years of working have created a strong bond between her and the local residents. From her daily life, we can understand the importance of ¡°not taking things for granted before they disappear.¡±
[Agora Jury Award]
Nowhere to Go by Lee Minho