The 26th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) is taking place in South Korea from October 4-14. This year, the festival has a focus on Asia and its culture, with many films focusing on Asian themes or featuring Asian actors.
The 26th Busan International Film Festival is a film festival that takes place in South Korea every year. It’s also the largest film festival in Asia. This year, there are 10 documentaries you should not miss at this event. Read more in detail here: film festivals 2021.
These are the top 10 documentaries to see at the 26th Busan International Film Festival, which will take place in Busan, Korea from October 6th to 15th, 2021.
– Documents Selected –
Heo Chul-206: nyung’s Unearthed – Korea, Thailand | 2021 – 93 minutes Section: Documentary Competition, Wide Angle | World Premiere
After the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was established as a South Korean government organization in 2005, was disbanded, civic groups and bereaved families formed a joint organization to investigate the remains of civilians massacred during the Korean War, which the government had failed to complete. 206: The Excavation Project is a three-year documentary documenting the organization’s three-year excavation operations. A record of sunshine, dirt, and perspiration has been unearthed. The film opens with a letter from the filmmaker to his grandmother, who awaited the return of her husband after he was kidnapped by the police during the Korean War. She has been waiting for 70 years since he and his remains have never come home. So started the director’s lengthy voyage, which has no end in sight. The video concludes with a passage from Roland Barthes’ Mourning Diary, which is devoted to a photograph of the unearthed bones and the grandmother’s obituary. This is a documentary on the scars of history as well as a director’s grieving journal. (BIFF 2021 – KANG Sowon)
*The 2018 AND BIFF Mercenat Fund was awarded to this film.
Dates of screening: Friday, October 8, 2021 | Lotte Cinema Centum City 5 | 15:00 pm Sunday, October 10th, 2021 | 12:30 pm | Lotte Cinema Centum City 5 Monday, October 11th, 2021 | 12:00 pm | Lotte Cinema Centum City 10
Shin Yu-End Lun’s Crossing’s – Taiwan | 2021 – 116 minutes Section: Documentary Competition, Wide Angle | World Premiere
A couple in their early twenties is breaking up on a bridge on a cold night in 2002, when the lady slips down. Is it a suicide or an accident? The guy requests that a friend call an ambulance, but the lady passes away. When an eyewitness retracts his initial testimony and claims that he witnessed the two guys push the lady over the bridge, the man and his buddy are charged with murder. Director Shih Yu-Lun works with the ‘Taiwan Innocence Project,’ a non-profit group that assists innocent individuals who have been wrongfully convicted, to re-investigate the case after more than a decade. While the Taiwan Innocence Project’s efforts are shown in the film, filmmaker Shih Yu-primary Lun’s emphasis is on the tale of two innocent young men and their families. A strong, solid narrative with a believable gaze and a serene tone throughout, with no emotional peaks or valleys. (BIFF 2021 – KANG Sowon)
Dates: Sunday, October 9th, 2021 | 16:30 pm | Lotte Cinema Centum City 5 Monday, October 11th, 2021 | 20:00 pm | Lotte Cinema Centum City 5 Wednesday, October 13th, 2021 | 20:00 pm | Busan Cinema Center Cinematheque
Jennifer Ngo’s Faceless – Hong Kong, China, USA | 2021 – 83 minutes Section: Documentary Showcase, Wide Angle
The globe watched from afar as Hong Kong residents went to the streets in 2019. Drones caught scenes of demonstrations. Two million protestors is an inconceivable amount. The city is transformed into a battleground as firebombs and police batons fly. Faceless depicts previously unseen aspects of the 2019 Hong Kong demonstrations. It tells the behind-the-scenes stories of four Hong Kong teenagers: a high school student who became an outspoken activist against his parents’ wishes, a queer artist who transforms propaganda into street art, a girl who turns against her police officer father, and a devout Christian who dreams of nonviolent struggle. They wear masks and gas masks to symbolize the two million Hong Kong residents’ fury, dedication, aspirations, and ambitions. In this impassioned, frantic, and sad film, the camera remains in the streets with the faceless and nameless individuals. (BIFF 2021 | KANG Sowon)
Dates of screening: Sunday, October 10th, 2021 | CGV Centum City 1 | 16:30 pm Wednesday, October 13th, 2021 | Lotte Cinema Centum City 2 | 14:00 pm Thursday, October 14th, 2021 | 16:00 pm | Busan Cinema Center Cinema 2
Oh Seyeon’s Fanatic – Korea | 2021 – 87 minutes Section: Documentary Competition, Wide Angle | World Premiere
Because her hero featured on the same show as her, an adolescent girl who appears on a TV show as an idol singer’s fan is referred to as a ′seongdeok′ (successful fan). Years later, the same idol singer is charged with gang rape as well as unlawfully recording and disseminating sex videos. In a confusing state of rage and sorrow, the seongdeok, who has unexpectedly become a criminal’s fan, decides to meet with other criminal’s followers. The story of Fanatic starts with filmmaker Oh Seyeon’s humiliating background. The scenario is amusing yet not amusing. She finally approaches the far-right Taegeukgi demonstration participants in front of Seoul Station, conducting rallies for the release of former president Park Geun-hye, after meeting with other fans in similar situations who are “suffering more because they’d loved.” This film is, above all, smart. It is an uncomfortably straight, sad, and honestly introspective documentary packed with profanity. (BIFF 2021 – KANG Sowon)
Dates: Saturday, October 9th, 2021 | 19:30 pm | Lotte Cinema Centum City 5 Monday, October 11th, 2021 | 13:30 pm | Lotte Cinema Centum City 3 Saturday, October 13th, 2021 | 17:30 pm | Lotte Cinema Centum City 5
Lee Ilha’s I Am More – Korea | 2021 – 81 minutes Section: Documentary Showcase, Wide Angle
As night descends on the city, More’s magnificent and daring performance starts. More, a transgender drag queen at a bar in Itaewon, Seoul, aspired to be a dancer. The crowd applauds, but More is tired of the show he/she has been performing for the last 20 years. Around that time, he/she gets cast for the “Stonewall Riots 50th Anniversary” performance in New York, giving him/her the opportunity to perform in toe shoes for the first time. From the very beginning, I am More captures our interest. The protagonist is strong, and the film is equally so. More often appears in the film in a realm that blurs the lines between reality and imagination, with feather-like eyelashes. In contrast to the Stonewall stage, director Lee Ilha creates an enormously wide platform for More, who holds up his or her tottering ego and screams “I am More!” to the globe. A superb biography and musical documentary with a flair that is worthy of its protagonist. (BIFF 2021 – KANG Sowon)
*The 2019 AND BIFF Mercenat Fund was awarded to this film.
Dates: Saturday, October 9th, 2021 | 16:00 pm | Lotte Cinema Centum City 4 Sunday, October 10th, 2021 | 13:30 pm | Lotte Cinema Centum City 2 Thursday, October 14th, 2021 | Lotte Cinema Centum City 5 | 20:30 pm
Rebana’s Ladies Only Liz John – 2021 – 82 minutes | Germany, India Section: Documentary Competition, Wide Angle | World Premiere
Trains in Mumbai, India, are like trains from hell during the morning commute. Hordes of people rush in through the closing doors as if they’re the last trains on the planet, while others who can’t get in cling to the doors. Thankfully, one of the vehicles is just for women—an it’s India inside India, a microcosm of women. Rebana “What makes you angry?” Liz John asks the passengers as she enters the vehicle with her camera. A housewife, a punk girl, a weightlifter, and a college student are among the ladies who unravel their ideas on their aspirations and freedom. Light and shadow, sounds and motions, winds and scenery created by the fast-moving train mix with ever-changing faces in this black-and-white video, producing surprising cinematic moments that almost appear to have been scripted. (BIFF 2021 – KANG Sowon)
Dates: Saturday, October 9th, 2021 | CGV Centum City 6 | 17:00 pm Sunday, October 10th, 2021 | 19:30 pm | Lotte Cinema Centum City 5 Tuesday, October 12th, 2021 | 15:30 pm | Lotte Cinema Centum City 10
Sungeun Kim’s Map Without Island – Korea | 2021 – 92 minutes Section: Documentary Showcase | World Premiere | Wide Angle
This documentary explores the concept of unrestricted yet powerful love. It’s the tale of individuals who are working hard to protect the land of Jeju Island, which is being devastated by many developments and national initiatives, with a tragic past in mind. It’s a tale about individuals who are frantically trying to improve society via social movements. Their backgrounds, ethnicities, and professions are all diverse. Natives, foreigners, and environmentalists are all terms used to describe them. They do, however, share the concept of coexisting with nature and respecting one other for who they are. The film carefully and in detail depicts protests against the construction of a second airport on Jeju Island, as well as the performances of environmentalists, in order to create a tragic love tale. (BIFF 2021 – HONG Eunmi)
Dates: Sunday, October 10th, 2021 | 20:00 pm | Lotte Cinema Centum City 3 Monday, October 11th, 2021 | 13:30 pm | Lotte Cinema Centum City 2 Thursday, October 14, 2021 | Lotte Cinema Centum City 10 | 20:30 pm
Lee Yong Chao’s Rain in 2020 – Taiwan, Myanmar | 2021 – 79 minutes Section: Documentary Showcase, Wide Angle
RAIN IN 2020 is a seven-year documentary about Ah-Tian, a teenage Myanmar jade miner, and his family’s hardships. The heavy rain that transforms his home into a mud bath every rainy season, the landslide that killed hundreds of miners, and the coronavirus are three things that make life tough for Ah-Tian, who is also filmmaker Lee Yong Chao’s younger brother. The filmmaker has short but important discussions with his brother, mother, and young nephews about the power of money operating behind the scenes or openly beneath this unpleasant reality in a scenario where existence, much alone a steady daily life, is not assured. By the conclusion of the film, the viewer has gained an understanding of a national exploitation system via the everyday lives of a single family. The last moment sends shivers up your spine. (BIFF 2021 – KIM Bo-nyun)
Dates of screening: Friday, October 8, 2021 | CGV Centum City 1 | 20:30 pm Saturday, October 9th, 2021 | Lotte Cinema Centum City 9 | 16:30 pm Tuesday, October 12th, 2021 | 14:00 pm | Lotte Cinema Centum City 2
Korea | 2021 – 76 minutes | Steel Boat by Kim Jigon Section: Documentary Showcase | World Premiere | Wide Angle
Sungsim-won is a Hansen’s disease treatment center situated near the Gyeongho River in Sancheong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do Province. It was constructed using funds collected from the sale of relief goods after the Korean War, and it has served as a valuable home for many Hansen patients. Steel boats were the sole means of communication with the outside world until the Sungsim bridge was built over the Gyeongho river. This tiny steel boat is now moored at Sungsim-won, carrying the scars of a difficult period in the past. Director Kim Jigon, who was tasked with creating a video celebrating Sungsim-60th won’s anniversary, visited the site for the first time and has spent the past three years meticulously portraying it. The numbing and dazzling moments of Sungsim-won people, as well as the beautiful sights provided by uttermost care, are captured in this video, which is an innocent and remarkable documentary that will reverberate deeply in your heart. (BIFF 2021 – HONG Eunmi)
Dates of screening: Friday, October 8, 2021 | Lotte Cinema Centum City 3 | 13:00 pm Sunday, October 10th, 2021 | 17:00 pm | Lotte Cinema Centum City 2 Tuesday, October 12th, 2021 | 19:00 pm | Lotte Cinema Centum City 10
Taste of Wild Tomato (Taiwan) by Lau Kek-Huat | 2021 – 124 minutes | World Premiere | Wide Angle, Documentary Competition
The city of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, was one of the worst hit by the February 28 event in 1947. People were prohibited from discussing the February 28 event in Taiwan for 40 years after the Kuomintang’s rebellion against discrimination and tyranny culminated in a tragic slaughter. Director Hou Hsiao-Hsien was the first to tell the world about the event when martial rule was abolished, via his film A City of Sadness (1989). Director Lau Kek-Huat recounts the people of Kaohsiung’s collective recollections of the February 28 event more than 30 years afterwards. The narrative of Taste of Wild Tomato starts with the history of Kaohsiung, which served as a major military post for the Japanese army during the Japanese occupation, and continues with the profound wounds left by the survivors, their descendants, and their descendants’ grandchildren. The incident’s memories are everywhere in Kaohsiung, like wild tomatoes, and the director moves among them with broad steps and a fluid walk. (BIFF 2021 – KANG Sowon)
Dates: Saturday, October 9th, 2021 | 13:00 pm | Lotte Cinema Centum City 9 Monday, October 11th, 2021 | 10:00 a.m. | Lotte Cinema Centum City 5 Tuesday, October 12th, 2021 | 19:00 pm | Busan Cinema Center Cinematheque
Visit https://www.biff.kr/eng/ for additional details.
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