Busan, South Korea-Busan became a byword to many because of the 2016 South Korean film “Train to Busan”.

It is an action horror film that mostly takes place on a high-speed train from Seoul to Busan as a zombie apocalypse suddenly breaks out in the country and threatens the safety of the passengers. While the train is shooting toward Busan, the passengers have to fight for their lives against the zombies.

With a zombie film in my mind, I arrived in Busan last week to attend the Asian Patent Attorneys Association (APAA) conference.

The conference coincided with the last few days of the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), held from October 5 to 14, 2022. There was also the BTS Yet to Come concert last October 15.

The BIFF is an annual event in Haeundae-gu, Busan, which is considered one of the most significant film festivals in Asia.

The first festival, held from September 13 to 21, 1996, was also the first international film festival in Korea.

The main focus of the BIFF is to introduce new films and first-time directors, especially those from Asian countries, through its efforts to develop and promote young talents.

The festival helped make Busan a great place for movie fans and the center of the visual culture business.

This year’s festival had 242 films from 71 countries that were screened under the Official Selection, while 101 films had World and International Premieres. There were also 161 films presented at the Community BIFF and BIFF Everywhere.

Filipino filmmakers Brillante Mendoza’s “Feast” and Lav Diaz’s “When The Waves Are Gone” joined the Icons section of this year’s festival, which showcases the latest films by iconic contemporary filmmakers.

Three Filipino co-production films also took part in the Window on Asian Cinema, a section that puts a spotlight on the latest films of well-established and emerging directors in the industry.

These are “Autobiography” by Makbul Mubarak, co-produced by Filipino producer Armi Cacanindin of ACC Cinematografica; “Arnold is a Model Student” by Sorayos Prapapan, also co-produced by Cacanindin; and “Plan 75” by Chie Hayakawa co-produced by Alemberg Ang of Daluyong Studios and Wilfredo Manalang of Fusee. The films were co-produced by outfits from other countries.

Cinemalaya 2022 award-winning films “The Baseball Player” by Carlo Obispo, “Blue Room” by Ma-an Asuncion-Dagñalan, and “12 Weeks” by Sunshine Matutina are also part of the Asian Contents & Film Market (ACFM) market screenings.

In 2008, “Andong” by Rommel Tolentino received the Sonje Award, which is given to the best Korean and Asian short films in the Wide Angle section.

In 2008, “100” by Chris Martinez received the KNN Award (Audience Award), which was awarded by the KNN Foundation to a film from the New Currents section selected by audiences.

In 2011, the film “Nino” by Loy Arcenas received the New Currents award given to the two best feature films selected from the first or second works of new Asian directors introduced in the New Currents section.

In 2021, “Gensan Punch” by Brillante Mendoza received the Kim Jiseok Award.

In 2016, “The Crescent Rising” by Sheron Dayoc received the Mecenat Award which is granted to the best documentary from Korea and Asia in Wide Angle competitive section.

The Philippines’ “The Atom Araullo Specials: Young Arms (Munting Bisig)” of GMA Network won Best Asian Documentary at the 4th Asia Contents Awards (ACA) which was announced during the BIFF. The ACA recognized outstanding TV, OTT, and online content from Asia.

I saw the films Andong, 100 and Nino at the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival.

“Andong” is about a six-year-old boy who is obsessed about acquiring twenty pesos. The film shows the dynamics of a family with a hand-to-mouth existence.

“100” chronicles the last three months of a cancer-stricken woman who has a list of things to do before she dies. Her list of tasks, mostly closures and practical undertakings, expands to the worldly and the spiritual as people close to her share her last days. The film examines the betrayal of the body, celebrates the senses, and contemplates the end of life and how to live it.

“Nino” evolved around the tender and co-dependent relationship of an aging opera star and her ailing gentleman brother, the bitterness that runs along with the love between mother and child, and the dysfunction and affection within a family.

Cinemalaya aims to encourage the creation of new cinematic works by Filipino filmmakers—works that boldly articulate and freely interpret the Filipino experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity.

It also aims to invigorate Philippine filmmaking by developing a new breed of Filipino filmmakers.

( Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, e-mail info@sapalovelez.com, or call 0917-5025808 or 0908-8665786.)

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