Movie on North Korean defector to open Asia’s biggest film festival, Ip Man martial arts drama the closing film

Beautiful Days, about a North Korean who abandons her family to flee the country, then is reunited with them, will open the Busan International Film Festival, whose organisers hope for ‘harmony, normalisation and a new leap forward’ after years of conflict with Busan city government

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 September, 2018, 6:50pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 September, 2018, 7:17pm

A film about the plight of a defector who abandons her family in North Korea will open Asia’s biggest film festival next month, organisers said on Tuesday as they look to end years of turmoil surrounding the event.

The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) will run from October 4-13 and feature 323 movies from 79 countries, including 115 which will have their world premiere.

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This year’s festival will open with South Korean filmmaker Jero Yun’s Beautiful Days, which tells the story of a woman who abandons her husband and young son to flee North Korea for a better life but later reconnects with them.

“The unique storyline of the restoration of a family through initial dissolution was appealing and the subject of a North Korean defector was also very timely,” said festival director Jay Jeon.

The Busan International Film Festival, launched in 1996, has grown into the largest of its kind in Asia, with a focus on discovering new movies and up-and-coming directors from across the region.

But the annual event was hit by a bitter row between organisers and the municipal government of the host city, Busan, over the 2014 screening of a controversial documentary about the Sewol ferry disaster. The film criticised the South Korean government’s handling of the sinking in April 2014 that killed more than 300 people, mostly schoolchildren.

Since then the organising committee has faced a flurry of official investigations and suffered an unprecedented cut in state funding. Organisers vowed to put aside the controversy this year.

“We would be grateful if you can think of it as the year for harmony, normalisation and a new leap forward,” said Lee Yong-kwan, chairman of the organising committee.

Martial arts drama Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy, by Hong Kong’s Yuen Woo-ping, will close the festival.

While the guest list has yet to be fully disclosed, organisers said American producer Jason Blum is among the high-profile visitors who have confirmed their attendance.