“Busan West” Film Festival will begin this year, and is set to take place March 8-10.
The festival is being staged by Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts in partnership with South Korea’s Busan International Film Festival – the biggest film fest of Asia.
Busan West is expanding its program, and even expanded its program for this year. The 2013 Busan West program features a special opening night event and a martial arts retrospective, all designed to showcase Korean and Asian culture through food, music, and decor.
Q & A sessions led by notable film scholars will guide the audiences in conversation with several of Asia’s top film directors and talents who have committed to participate at Busan West and personally introduce their films.
BZFilm talked to Professor Nam Lee, an expert in Pan-Asian film, who spoke about the upcoming festival, and revealed what is to be expected from the upcoming event.
Dr. Lee, why has it been decided to host the 2013 Busan West Film Fest at Chapman University?
In 2009, Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University established a partnership with Busan International Film Festival to create and organize annual Busan West Film Festival at Chapman. It was part of Dodge College’s effort to expand international relationship with Asia and Asian film communities and to introduce new films from Asia to our students and American audience. Busan West is a window to contemporary Asian cinema and a bridge between Hollywood and Asia.
The first Busan West was held in Nov. 2009 with 6 Korean directors invited to present their new films. Park Chan-wook was the first Busan West Icon Award recipient and Kim Jee-woon was also there to present his work Bittersweet Life.
The second Busan West was held in Nov. 2011 with Korean director Bong Joon-ho as the Icon Award recipient. Park and Bong, as award recipients, offered a masterclass to our film students. This year, we are moving the dates to March and the festival will be held annually.
This year’s festival expands, by adding short films nomination. Why was such idea considered in the first place?
The idea had been there from the beginning, however, it did not materialize until this year. Busan West, as a bridge between the US and Asia, should encourage and support Asian American filmmaking because Busan West is American version of Busan International Film Festival which is well known for fostering regional filmmaking and emerging directors.
One of the goals of Busan West is to to encourage Asian-American filmmaking and to introduce their films to Busan International Film Festival by giving the winners opportunity to screen their films at BIFF. It is a way to support local filmmakers. Also a short film festival is a great way to discover new talents across the nation.
How is the local community reacting to the upcoming event thus far?
We feel that the interest is growing as we move into the third installment of the festival in terms attracting local sponsors. Asian communities in LA and OC area are also becoming more aware of the festival. Also we are attracting more media attention as well. We are slowly building our reputation.
Please tell us more about the martial arts retrospective, that the festival promises. What will be shown and told at the festival, regarding martial arts?
We are organizing a small martial arts retrospective to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the US release of the “Five Fingers of Death.” a Hong Kong martial arts film directed by a Korean Chung Chnag-hwa. It is the first martial arts movie that became a box office hit in the US (followed by Bruce Lee films) thus, starting the “kung-fu boom” in the US in the 70s. It is now a cult classic. We are showing the film with the director present to have a Q&A with the audience.
We are bringing two other classic martial arts films: Tsui Hark’s Once Upon a Time in China (1993) and Iron Monkey(1993) another cult classic. Also, we are in contact with one of the emerging martial arts filmmaker from China with a new martial arts film. In conjunction with the screening, there will be a panel discussion moderated by our faculty Dr. David Desser with filmmakers.
Will the festival touch upon films from North Korea?
Not this year but if we find interesting North Korean films that we would like to introduce to American audience, we will include them in our program.
What else the upcoming festival has planned, that was not mentioned on Chapman Un’s blog?
We will have our line-up finalized early February. Besides Martial Arts Classics Special and Kim Jee-woon mini retrospective, 6 new films from Asia will be selected to be screened. We will also confirm our guest filmmakers.
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